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Highs and Lows Part I: Are Low-End Windows Phones Hurting Microsoft's Smartphone Brand?

This was the question posed by my 14-year-old niece from the back seat of the car on Easter Sunday. She will soon be the recipient of a Lumia 635 Windows Phone. Good news right? Well, kind of. The device will be passed down to her from my nephew, her 18-year-old brother who after a second brief stint with Windows Phone has returned to team iPhone. So much for family loyalty.

He does leave these parting sentiments in praise of the Windows Phone UI, however. Windows Phone is fast, smooth and never hangs. Yet, he refuses to hang around. So why no selfies with the Lumia 635 for my teenage niece and all those selfie loving types? Well, what happened was...

Low Blow

"We will be particularly focused on making the market for Windows Phone. In the near term, we plan to drive Windows Phone volume by targeting the more affordable smartphone segments, which are the fastest growing segments of the market, with Lumia." – Satya Nadella

These are the words of Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, in a memo{.nofollow} sent to employees on July 10, 2014 that revealed to us the strategy outlined for the Redmond company. Low is the way to go. Emerging markets, often referred to as the next billion, are the target growth audience for both Microsoft and it's rival Google. In a race to the bottom both firms have committed to a strategy to offer low-cost devices to populations with limited disposable income, and for whom a smartphone is potentially their first internet connected device.

Unlike iOS and Android, the Windows Phone operating system has not been a highly recognized and sought after platform of choice by the general smartphone buying population. Shoppers regularly walk into carrier stores, retail stores or surf the web seeking to purchase an Android or iOS device. Market share stats show this all too well. Combined, these two platforms occupy approximately 97% of the smartphone space. Android claims about 80% while iOS boasts about 17%. Windows Phone's meager 3% is a reflection of the reality that comparatively few shoppers are actively seeking Windows Phones. Sure that's a tough pill to swallow for Microsoft and those of us that follow it. But in order to solve a problem one must first acknowledge the problem exists.

Lumia 1520

Nokia Lumia 1520 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Trimming the "Phat"

Phat: slang for very good, excellent; cool; hot and tempting.

In order to reach the masses and to grow their global mobile footprint of devices and services like Bing, Office, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype, Microsoft had to make Windows Phone more accessible by lowering the cost of purchase. Foregoing the esteemed build quality, superior feature set and premiere imaging technology found in high-end devices like the Nokia Lumia 1020, 1520, 925, 928 and 930/Icon, Microsoft has offered devices to the masses that present a compromise.

Devices with lower memory, slower processors, less impressive displays, less advanced cameras, no front facing camera and a less premium build. Per Satya's plan, this has yielded a proliferation of low-end, low-cost devices in the market. As a result, in a world dominated by Android and iOS people have begun, relatively few though they be, to take notice of Windows Phone. Well, kind of. This is where things can get a little tricky.

A Brand in the Hand is Worth...

Every company seeks to create a recognizable brand; something appealing that differentiates it from the competition. Apple has positioned itself as a luxury brand. Consumers recognize Apple's products and are willing to pay the price to acquire them. Regardless of personal feelings towards Apple, the Cupertino company has mastered the art of branding. It has been so successful with the iPad, for example, that for many the product name 'iPad' is often used interchangeably with tablet. This reality surfaced (pun intended) during an NFL game.

Then, of course, there's Samsung. The company's "Next Big Thing" campaign mockingly acknowledged Apple and branded the Samsung Galaxy line of devices as the natural progression beyond the iPhone's monumental success.

Much of the world believed the message. That campaign effectively halted Apple's apparent unstoppable rise as the head of a mobile device hegemony. Samsung is now the world's largest OEM for smartphones. It is also a highly recognized brand.

Branding is key. Two of Microsoft's arch rivals in the mobile space have succeeded in creating highly recognizable brands for their mobile products. A cursory sampling of the general population would likely yield that most people recognize Apple as the "luxury/elite" brand and can easily associate Samsung's Android devices with their "Next Big Thing" campaign.

So, if Apple represents luxury and Samsung is the Next Big Thing, what is Microsoft's brand? According to Satya Nadella, they are the "productivity and platform company." Ok, sure we all recognize that Microsoft's Office productivity suite rules homes and enterprise the world over.

But wait.

There's more.

Productivity, as defined by Microsoft, goes well beyond Office productivity of documents, spreadsheets, and slides. It encompasses everything in both work and personal life. It's about empowerment. Here's how Nadella puts it in his 7/10/14 memo to Microsoft employees.

"At our core, Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world. We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more."Productivity for us goes well beyond documents, spreadsheets, and slides."

I'll take that $50 Phone. What's it called by the way? Or I'll See your Brand and Raise You Fifty

Nadella's branding goals are a bit more ambitious than the role Microsoft has played in our lives in the way of productivity in the past. The Redmond company is aiming to seamlessly serve our productivity needs for everything we do across work and our personal lives. That is certainly great and comprehensive branding. We buy our devices to do stuff after all. If Microsoft's branding as the productivity and platform company begins to resonate with the masses, Redmond may solidify itself in the industry as the brand to get things done.

Microsoft is aiming to seamlessly serve our productivity needs for everything we do across work and our personal lives. The question is, are the masses hearing this message?

The question is, are the masses hearing this message? You see when a lot of people go to purchase a smartphone they are looking for the phone that changed everything. They want the phone that put the internet in everyone's pocket, has a mature app ecosystem, vast developer and third party support and is the device that everyone's friends and family members use. The status symbol device, the iPhone.

Or they're looking for its antithesis. The device that claims to be the natural successor to the mobile device throne. The phone that made large screen devices popular. A Samsung Galaxy device.

The majority of shoppers who are not looking for either of those or some other high-end Android device are likely just looking for a cheap, I mean, affordable device they can purchase outright. What's the OS? Who knows and who cares?

This is where Windows Phone has hit its stride. Not on the message that it is a device that fits within an ecosystem that is positioned as the productivity and platform solution. No, Windows Phone is making ground as the cheap option.

This is where Windows Phone has hit its stride...Windows Phone is making ground as the cheap option.

Yes, I know the politically correct term is "affordable". But when most real people walk into real stores and spend real money on a device – and really walk out having spent $50 - $100 for a real smartphone off contract – their perception is that what they now own was cheap in comparison to many other available options.

Branding is a psychological affair.

Windows Phone has not yet attained that psychological branding of empowerment in the minds of most consumers. It is known for something, however. With most of the Windows Phone devices that saturate the market belonging to the low-end, Windows Phone is the cheap smartphone option. With very few high end devices on the market and the lack of a strong and aggressive productivity and platform consumer facing message, cheap is becoming the recognized brand in the mind of consumers that defines Windows Phone.

Consumer: Hi, do you have anything under $100?

Associate: Sure we have these Lumia's.

Consumer: How much?

Associate:$49.99

Consumer: Great I'll take two!

Out of Sight Out of Mind

During a visit to Walmart I witnessed a young woman telling the sales associate that she had come to purchase the Lumia device that was in the paper for $50. As you may have guessed, said associate began to attempt to dissuade her from her decision in favor of another platform. After quietly observing I carefully interjected sharing some Windows Phone info and then placed my Lumia 1520 face up on the counter. What struck me was the reaction of the associate who remarked about its high definition display as if she'd never seen one on a Windows Phone before that moment. Needless to say, the tide of the conversation then turned in favor of Windows Phone.

The observation I'm left with is that Windows Phones meager 3% market representation is so small, and the even more miniscule representation of high-end devices as part of that barely visible share so unremarkable, that it makes the general populations encounters with a high-end Windows Phone device almost non-existent. If someone happens to encounter a Windows Phone in the wild it will likely be a low-end device with an ok display, low memory, low-end build quality and no front facing camera. You know like the 5xx and existing 6xx range of devices that dominate Windows Phone share with over 50% representation.

This is what people associate with the Windows Phone platform. They don't see high-end devices. So they believe what they do see. A Windows Phone in their estimation is a low-end device. Furthermore, this is the perception of Windows Phone that the masses then use when comparing Windows Phone to iPhones and high-end Android devices. Ouch.

Low-end with the associated design and specification compromises sadly may be becoming Windows Phones brand in the minds of consumers.

As we await this summer's debut of Windows 10 and the promised flagship Windows phone(s) I'm reminded of a childhood favorite. Big Bird from Sesame Street was the only one to ever see his pal, Mr. Snuffleupagus. Despite Big Birds assertions of Snufflleupagus' existence, people only believed what they saw (or didn't see.)

It seems Windows Phone enthusiasts and techies are the only ones who ever see high-end Windows Phones. 'Nuff said.

The Elephant in the Room

One additional challenge facing Windows Phone adoption is actually one of it's greatest strengths. Microsoft, with the unique Windows Phone UI and Live Tiles, made a deliberate departure from the more 'traditional' UI found on iOS and Android. This unique presentation of the Modern UI is loved by many and hated by some.

Sometimes the truth hurts.

Many just don't understand how to navigate the Windows Phone UI. I think, however, that this reality has less to do with Windows Phone being inherently less intuitive than competing platforms, and is more a representation of the effects of the dominant platforms on the experiences of the general population. As noted above, 97% of the smartphone using population use iOS or Android. Also noted above, both share some common user interface functionality. The similarities are so profound that Apple took Samsung to court over accusations of patent infringement, though of course Samsung Android isn't Google Android. But, I digress.

Naturally, with similarities so profound users switching between iOS and Android, or simply using a device from the competing platform will find some familiarity. Because of this they may even perceive it as intuitive. This is also true for individuals who do not yet own a smartphone. iOS and Android devices are so prolific, most people in most regions have at least seen or used one.

Someone picking up a Windows Phone, however, sometimes finds it confusing because in their experience a smartphone looks, and is navigated, a certain way. The vertical rather than horizontal scrolling home screen, the Live Tiles that combine the power of widgets with the efficiency of icons and an app list accessible with a swipe from the right is unfamiliar to the masses. This unique experience can be frustrating to some consumers.

Though simple, once learned, some new users without support succumb to the frustration and return their Windows devices with vocal complaints. These UI 'challenges' coupled with the perceived low-end branding and comparative limitations of the low-end hardware add up to a real barrier to positive Windows Phone perception. Many sales associates who facilitate these returns and hear these complaints then rehash these user experiences to new customers interested in Windows Phones. And round-and-round we go.

...Two in the Bush (or More RAM in the Bush)

I opened this piece with a question from my niece.

"Why don't Windows phones have front facing cameras?", she asked.

The simple answer is that Microsoft's plan to grow Windows Phone market share was to cut costs, eliminating some features in order to sell low-cost devices to the masses. Additionally, the missing front-facing shooter is not a characteristic of Windows Phone as a platform. It is rather a strategic compromise for some of the low end devices that make up the bulk of Windows Phone current market presence. Microsoft has received a lot of feedback from users regarding some of these compromises found in popular devices like the Lumia's 520 and 635. Complaints have been levied regarding the 512MB of RAM that is insufficient to run certain apps. Also in the age of selfies and video calls a missing front facing camera can be a deal breaker or a frustrating omission to many like my niece. But there is hope.

Microsoft's new Lumia's 640 and 640XL bring to bear a promise made by Microsoft in 2014. The company made a commitment then to progressively bring high-end features to lower end devices. The specs on these two phones supports that.

Selfie

Of course Microsoft, though not pushing an aggressively vocal productivity and platform consumer facing message to the masses, have through the proliferation of its low-end devices pushed their productivity tools. Skype, Office, OneNote, OneDrive, Bing and Outlook along with the need to log into the Windows Phone with a Microsoft account are all inherently part of the Microsoft Windows Phone experience. Cortana, great Lumia branded camera and photo editing tools, the ability to use OneDrive to store and play music all help to tell Microsoft's productivity for work and personal life and platform story. Microsoft is conveying its productivity and platform message albeit in a much less "in your face" method than Apple's and Samsung's branding campaigns.

In the age of the selfie, however, maybe a little Apple and Samsung-esque self-adoring self-promotion is in order for Microsoft. Persistent in your face, productivity and platform empowerment ads, selfies if you will, could succeed in convincing the masses of what we in the Microsoft camp have known all along. Windows Phone is far more than the cheap option.

Stay Tuned for Highs and Lows Part II: Microsoft's SmartPhone Strategy, Planting the Seeds for Success

In the meantime chime-in in comments and Twitter @JLTechWord. We've got a lot to talk about!

Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!

416 Comments
  • Yes, but doesn't matter for those who don't care about brands
  • Yes. Because they've got no new flag ships to push through advertising. Nothing great to tout and make people want. They need a flagship, similar to the Samsung Galaxy, that is a flagship. Samsung goes all out with Galaxy ads, promoting it as the top tier of the android phones. MS needs something similar.
  • Agreed.
  • Yep. They're doing a lot wrong with the entire brand. The low end is necessary. Lumia 520 was a hit, and they'd be idiotic to NOT replicate that success... thing is - they don't need to release twenty phones aimed at the low end to accomplish that goal... they're just making more sh*t that they won't be able to support long-term. They need to simplify.
  • Agreed with you wholeheartedly!
  • Two years with 520 and still show it off to my friends who bought Androids then and are suffering now. That is the quality of Windows Phone which Microsoft needs to brag about while campaigning.
  • That's really true, you can use WP for years without suffering.
  •   Have your two friends at least tried a WP device since they're so unhappy with their Androids? I mean, they can get a 635 for $50 and if they don't like it as their main device, they can use it as their back-up. I recently got my cousin to switch over by getting her a 635.
  • It was great until Tmobile released the Windows 8.1 update...Now my phone is super slow :P
  • L520 was a hit cause of price, availability, Android wasn't as famous as it is now & good advertising by Nokia. The last good ad for WP that i can remember is for the L1020, at least here in India. After that they pretty much lost focus on the phone & all the x30 & 640 ads only show Skype, office & latest OS. Don't really focus on what the phone can do.
    As for pumping devices, its just to offer more choices in emerging countries. But I do agree, too many can spoil the game as well, cause they are too confusing. 2 Low, 2 mid & 2 high end devices a year would be ideal according to me.
  • Microsoft capitulated way too much to carriers wanting exclusives.  You cannot advertise a high-end phone that is only available at one carrier.  They tried this with the Lumia Icon, and it was a disaster (not least of which no one wants to see a smug white douche mugging for the camera). Their new campaign, if it is such, with the Irish woman doing a voiceover, is really great.  They need to continue along this line.  They need to show how much you can "do" with Windows Phone.  They definitely have the opportunity to present Windows Phone as a creation platform, whereas Android and iOS are seen as consumption platforms. But then they need to follow it up by creating strong relationships with critcal brands.  For instance, the Facebook Messenger issue where it lacks Voice and Video calling, and the sad state of Instagram all need to change.
  • Exactly, LG 4 is hitting all major carriers worldwide..wtf MS
  • "Microsoft capitulated way too much to carriers wanting exclusives." Actually, it was Nokia that did that.  The devices were under Nokia's control at that stage.  Hopefully Microsoft will avoid making the same mistake, now that they're in charge.  Creating variations for a carrier is one thing but I whole-heartedly agree that making the Icon an exclusive - especially when it was totally neglected by the one carrier who had it - and not releasing the 930 in the US was damaging.  If they can avoid that sort of thing again then they have a shot at repairing the damage.  It will be slow going but Microsoft can afford its being slow more than almost any other company.
  • 520 was a hit in wp family but a fail for windows itself. Low end shouldn't mean cheap and limuted featured. It should mean cheap and equally featured as a flagship, but low end. 435 is a good example for a perfect low end. You can do virtually everything, but at lower specs and price. My mom bought the 520 and now she regrets it, she can't videochat with me
  • The 520 was great at the time for the price. The 620 was also solid. But for some reason, the 620 sold very poorly.
  • This +1520
  • If you agree with a post, hit the up arrow.  Quit it with the +1520 crap.  It's not constructive, it's just a waste of space.
  • Them there arrows at not in the WP app!
    ..
    +1520
  • +930, if only this were possible in the phone app, where many comment, so really it's -930....
  • Some of that blame lays with Nokia, because they have always seemed to be obsessed with making bizarre compromises, going back to their Symbian devices. But some of this lays with Microsoft, for relaxing the Windows Phone hardware requirments to capitulate to Nokia's desire to release junky phones.  They never should have allowed the removal of a front-facing camera.  Microsft owns Skype.  That was a really dumb move to cripple your software because a hardware partner whines loudly. They should have at least required VGA cameras for front and back.  If you look at the requirements for Windows 10 for phones and small tablets, it even removes the requirements of a touch screen.  Now, this may be to facilitate things like Raspberry Pi2, but in the end, it means you could get phones with no touchscreen but a little pearl trackball (if that is indeed cheaper than a digitiser, maybe not) or a device with a small screen and a touchpad below it (which is definitely cheaper than a digitiser). I just don't want to see the platform splinter at a hardware level so dramatically.
  • Totally agree. My buddy who I got on the 920 at release just left WP for android Galaxy 6. #simply because there was no hi end WP or one on the horizon. And if you are going to hit the low end simply the options and put quality out there. Agree w no FFC. Who the hell does that in the day and age of selfies??
  • Yup, this is going to be me this november.  I don't care about low end and MS doesn't seem at all interested in a flagship.
  • I'm with your fiend's boat. I currently have htc 8x, it's been well over 2 years and i am going to purchase whatever new iphone comes out this holliday. To me iPhone is the only thing tha comes close to windows phone in terms of looks
  • To me front-facing camera is a non-useful adage. I almost never make selfies and even when I did make some selfies (like 3 in 7 years) it was easy to just turn the phone around and take it with the more capable rear camera. I would really appreciate a good quality mid range phone with no front camera.
  • It isn't about selfies so much as video calling.  Apple has had video calling standard for over 5 years, and Android quickly followed.  I don't think I've ever seen a modern Android device without a front-facing camera. And Apple doesn't do feature regressions.
  • You took the words right out of my mouth. I highly agree with your logic, if MS is to make a real name for itself in the mobile world, then they need to get with the times and understand that the competition is crushing you with their higher end, better quality and are offering their customers what they want. How is that so damn hard for nadella to understand? Maybe he's the real problem and needs to go. I'm still using my 920, and am still waiting for a flagship, high end phone, so it looks like I'll be waiting for a while longer. Maybe long enough for me to say that's it and jump ship.
  • Well you're right there hasn't been a WP worth upgrading in a while (also still on 920). But on the other hand even on other platforms there is no device really worth upgrading. Wp runs still smooth on this old device compared to others (looking at you iphone 4s and older, and looking at new samsungs which lag from the start). Also the camera performs great and with wp10 on the way for all wp's, what do you guys expect? There havn't been groundbreaking news in the smartphone world, they just got thinner, and that's about it.
  • Blame Nokia, not Nadella. It's them cutting corners everywhere in last year of their WP efforts that created issues - low-end phones with 512 MB of RAM and no front-facing cameras, and flagship that turned out not good enough when Nadella checked it out.   Since then Microsoft scrapped crappy flagship and are working on a new one, truly their own, and have replaced all low-end Nokia phones with low-end Microsoft phones that all have 1 GB of RAM and front-facing cameras.   And if Surface team is anything to go by, Microsoft's flagship will be better than anything Nokia produced in last 5 years - and I'm saying that as owner of Lumia 800, 920, 630, 735, 1520 and planning to get 640 XL soon.
  • Yeah, I think a lot of people are forgetting that we were all tearing our hair out over the last round of Nokia Lumia having such poor spec, and many of us have now transferred that anger to MS without remembering where it came from.   Out of interest, what is attracting you to the 640XL if you forsee the next flagship being a truly worthwhile phone? 
  • Yes, I agree. I have some Nokia anger misdirected at MS. That's not good but it's partly because of the influx of NOKIA phones having Windows OS. It's a close partnership.
  • Whati is attracting me to 640 XL? It just seems like an exceptional phone for the price and I want to try it myself. I'll pass it to my significant other, sell it back or if it's really exceptional then I'll keep it on shelf just as a tech trophy :)
  • Good point
  • Unless you just don't like big phones, the Lumia 1520 was and is the most complete flagship for Windows Phone period. The only, I repeat, the only high end flagship with a high end camera (sorry HTC) AND microSD expansion support. Neither the 920, 930, 1020 or any other flagship made by Nokia can make such claims. Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android
  • In my humble experience the 1520 has been plagued with problems more so than any other windows phone I have ever had. It's been even worse than 8X. I agree it's a very beautiful and powerful phone with a great screen etc but how do screen discoloration, reboot loop, defective proximity sensor, phantom touch sound to you? Even if you haven't had any of these problems I know lots of people besides me who have had them.
  • Sorry to hear that. My 1520 does not have any of those issues. Best WP out there!
  • One known issue is the phantom touch that from what I have read all 1520s develop over time. It's a design flaw that manifests itself over time if you carry your phone in your front pocket screen down. And although I know all these problems I still love it. But for someone who was won over by the hardware the experience could be very frustrating. Between the flaws, issues and replacement units I can see someone less patient than myself dumping WP and never looking back. And that is the real problem because WP as a platform cannot afford these kind of screw up. It doesn't have the brand connotations that the iPhone has in order to get away with it.
  • The Samsung Ativ SE had all of those things.  The camera is really good on it.  Same as the Galaxy S4.
  • That's what my friend just did Quin. No high end > gone
  • Nadella doesn't understand because his head is in the cloud...
  • Agree DaveGx All I want is a top tier flagship device, nothing else. I understand Microsoft is pushing the lower end and why, but makes no difference to me, I just want a flagship, end of!!
  • Agreed wholeheartedly.
  • Agreed. The low end phones are detrimental to the Lumia brand, is just confusion and fodder for me and far from where Microsoft should be. The advertising for Windows Phone is embarrassingly bad and horribly lacking. I could create apple style commercials all day for Windows Phone, I'm not sure why Microsoft can't. Frustrating.
  • I completely agree with NIST....
    ®®®®®®®®®®®®
    While they focus on emerging markets, MS could've also gave the US, and high end market, more attention..... They need to hit up WP from every angle, and hard.... No time for hiatus's...
    ®®®®®®®®®®®®®
    Also, MARKETING is super critical, and it's time MS not only equaled it's competitors in that area, but surpassed them... That's what you got to do to get ahead if you're behind. You can't do what your competitors are doing, rather you have to do more, and do more much better. That's what MS doesn't seem to understand with WP.... Either that, or they don't care,, because they seem to do a great job marketing Xbox, and Surface.... Xbox marketing on bags of Doritos'❓Mountain Dew❓ Come on, man. That's sick.
  • I'm confident the high end Windows 10 device(s) that Microsoft will offer later this year will be amazing devices. I know its been a long wait. But timing is critical.
  • @Jason, firstly a great article, looking forward to part two, thanks Whilst its been argued that going for the low end is to gain more customers, how come WP market share has at the same time decreased?
  • @2tomtom thanks! Well the reason MS market share has decreased even though there are more WP in the hands of consumers is because the overall size of the smartphone market has increased as well. It like if you were trying to fill a cup with water but the cup kept increasing in size no matter how much water you poured in. The share(or percentage) of the cup filled may remain roughly the same though more water is in the cup than what was there when you started. Hope that helps.
  • You're dead right, we do need a flagship However, if Microsoft are so intent on delaying such a device for W10 launch, then they should at least be hitting the market with better 7xx and 8xx models. This is also where there money is to be made, in the non emerging more affluent markets.
  • Windows phone never hangs?.... Ha ha ha ha he ha he ha ha ha ha...joke of the year
    P.s- my l520 every fucking time even without any gamed.....i mean the fucking internet explorer crashes and I need to remove my battery and restart it again...... How about worst music player in the universe
  • Trolling at its best
  • Proof hes a troll the 1520 doesnt have a removable battery
  • I think he meant l520, not 1520...
  • Points for saying fuck many times over....a 3 out of 10...
  • What they need is: A flagship Surface phone promoted by an advertisement that is a play off of 2001: A Space Odyssey's opening scene where the monkeys curiously touch the monolith and that monolith is a surface phone... Seriously, something has to force these monkeys to evolve
  • THE thing we should really be talking about here is brand. when I ask people if they have an Android, I get a lot of people who don't really know. They say something like: Um... no I have a Samsung. Most people don't seek out an Android. They go to the store and look for the brand that has hammered their marketing into their head the most. It wasn't until (American) Football season that i heard people talking about the Surface line. Why? Because MS was relentless with their advertising and their product placement during that time. Most of their other marketing attempts are paltry at best. And MS needs to take a cue from Apple and Samsung and loudly proclaim "THIS IS WHAT IT IS!!! AND THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED!!!" as opposed to "try this if you want...oh wait, you don't love it? Let us completely throw the baby out with the bathwater and take away all the good stuff we created to give you more of what you were used to 5 years ago"
  • Microsoft are missing the real branding/sales message opportunity here. Windows phone is cool. It's for the Indie spirit.
    Lets face it, iPhone is no longer cool. When your parents and grandparents sport an iPhone, it's honestly no longer cool.
    Android is not cool. It's just a messy jumble of malware and privacy invasion. Millenials get this and they DO care about privacy, that's why they only use Facebook to check up on their parents and alter ego profiles for real life.
    So Microsoft should be pushing Windows Phone as the Indie alternative. Lets see some wild start screens, showcasing individual styles and customisations. Some Goth, some hiphop. Some boarder styles. Kids hanging out and showing their individual style.
    The 'cool' Monika in smartphones is vacant right now.
    Seize the day Microsoft.
  • Yeah, GoMicrosoft :)
  • Yes!!! You hit the nail right on the head mildmanneredjanitor! This productivity and platform thing that's not going to go anywhere with people. They need to see how a WP can be relevant in their life! Microsoft's idea sounds boring and like its trying to turn everyone into a workaholic. But phones usually mean, being social, staying connected and having fun i.e. games, movies music. A brilliant idea I just had... Idk if it exists but Microsoft needs a uservoice for ad campaigning and marketing!!! We can give them such great ideas! I'm gonna see if I can get that ball rolling I think...
  • A subculture-themed range sounds like a terrible idea to me. MS is already in a silent fight with its own customers to prevent them abusing customisation and making the phone's screen look ugly, without the phone body doing that too.  I think MS is better off creating a neutral individuality for itself - something simple and clean upon which the customer can project his/her own identity, or at least make it fit alongside one's identity. Win10 has successfully overtaken the Mac now; Windows has suddenly become the elegant OS that looks like the product of serious designers, while OSX looks old-fashioned and a bit tacky. There was a time in technology when the opinion of kids and teenagers was everything, but now that society is so top-heavy and financially uncertain, they're really not. There are more older people, and they have the disposable income. Marketing to kids like this is at best a large niche, and as you point out yourself, the canniest ones reject overt marketing.
  • I agree with you on the need to market to the youth. The biggest problem i see with WP and the youth right now is, as we've all beat the dead horse before about,...Lack Of Snapcrap...i mean Snapchat. I work in a school were i see many more WPs than i ever see anywhere else, but the big thing the kids have a gripe with is lack of Snapchat. I personally do not want Snapchat, but the youth who are getting a cheap phone from mom/dad/gaurdian are the most important market because they will be buying their own phone in a year or two. It's like the old American car company trick. Hook 'em on a reliable chaep product and they will be more likely to stick with the brand for a higher end purchase down the line. That being said, FFCs are important to the youth and I think the 640, if executed/marketed/sold right, will make tremendous inroads into changing perception of what a cheap device can do.
  • And what does it say about the "productivity" message when practically all of your productivity tools are available on the competing platforms, with even better quality? Has anyone tried using the most famous video calling program, namely Skype, on the hardware that Windows Phone is now associated with? It's a gut wrenching experience of sluggish UI. Sometimes it takes up to 20 seconds for the notifications section of Skype to open on a Lumia 520, when the orange notification circle is tapped. It's a game of contradiction for Microsoft. It never was for Apple. You can always find in Microsoft's behavior actions that go against what they profess. And it's not just the consumer market they are failing. Remember the Microsoft that was the king of development tools? Where is their client-side JavaScript library that matches MVC and ASP.NET WebForms? "Just use Bootstrap and Knockout. We're outta here." Where is SQLCE that was the DBMS system for mobile devices? They ask people to create Universal Apps using WinRT, but where are the powerful tools and APIs of .NET framework on WinRT? It's been a year since Microsoft released WP8.1, after another year or two of basically inactivity. What has Microsoft done in the last year for Windows Phone? One year in the mobile era is a decade in other IT areas. No flagship, no software update. They are again stuck with reinventing and damage control of the mismanagement mess that was Windows 8. You don't have much time left Microsoft. Better play your cards right in 2015 or you're over, at least in the consumer market.
  • Nicely said.
  • Good points. Skype has been a real dissapointment. Let's see if the Lync to Skype For Business improves things.  Based on previous experience, I'm not holding my breath.  It's sad when Microsoft employees use video conferencing via google hangouts. MS is still the King of development tools. You need to try VS 2015. Check out their Web Developer Tools (Web Essentials, TypeScript, Node, NPM, Bower, Grunt, Gulp, etc) to take advantage of 3rd party frameworks, etc. Don't get me wrong, Webstorm, Atom, Eclipse, Sublime Text are good IDE's.   The down side of Microsoft is keeping up with all the change. Let's hope MS can increase it's velocity across the board.  I'm hoping build 2015 will demonstrate it.  Check out the livestream of the convention here 4/29 :
    http://www.buildwindows.com/
  • Yeah but most people do care about brands, whether consciously or subconsciously. Otherwise people would eat the off brand cereal that comes in those awful bags.
  • It took 2 Galaxy S to make Samsung famous. Now they just slap Galaxy moniker on all cheap devices, which they're producing less of. One big hit was all that Samsung needed. Smart move. HTC did It right initially bombarding the market with all types of phones. What did HTC do wrong? They didn't leave an impression on any of their products. Consumers just didn't buy into that strategy. They confused the market. They're paying for today big time. MS doing the same thing as HTC.
  • Yes of course
  • Easily the best article on WC for long time. Take note Daniel.
    Well done !!!
  • I like these editorials. =)
  • Me too!!! It's quite a read but it's very insightful!
  • @Wpkkevin sincerely thanks for the feedback.:-) I have to say that the Windows Central team is just that - a team. :-) We all have our strengths and weaknesses and areas of focus. My focus is analytical pieces of the MS ecosystem and industry like the pieces you've enjoyed. I don't have the added responsibility of editing others work like the senior editors do. That in itself is a huge job. Everyone's contributions make this site the best tech community on the web which draw us all here. The senior editors have been key in helping me grow in my craft. Thier support and pointers are helping me to hone my skill so that I can give you all my BEST. I am very excited that you are so excited about my work. It is very encouraging and validating. I hope I can keep you and others engaged with thought provoking pieces. Thanks again!!!
    PS. "Most anticipated sequel since Star Wars"
    Wow talk about pressure!!!:-)
  • Agreed. If Jason can take the time and effort involved to write an insightful article of such length without spelling and grammer errors, why can't the rest of the editors do the same?
  • Interesting to note that, a.) you have a spelling error in your own post, and that b.) so does the article.  I don't particularly have an issue with a few little grammatical issues in a tech blog post, so this article is perfectly fine, especially given the fact that it is intelligently written.  My larger point woul dbe that maybe it's not such a big deal for any of the editors to have a few little mistakes here and there, as long as they're writing intelligent opinions, which is mostly the case.
  • Your opinion is noted. My opinion is that ALL professional writers should write professionally. The Internet is not an excuse.
     
  • I love reading them too!
  • Same! News is fun but these make you think a little more.
  • @uberlaff @SumairB Thanks so much!
  • Great article and well written.  Also, loved all the interactive inclusions (pictures, Sway, video, quotes).
  • I hope at least one of the major Microsoft executives has read this stuff! Somebody e-mail Elop this wonderful article
  • I think its true. Yes Microsoft sells more low end phone than their high end ones, why?! Even the high end lumia cant even compete with other cheaper high end competitors. Selling low end is not enough for their market. They have to make that can compete with manufacturers like samsung, htc, etc.
  • Not entirely right, the Lumia 830 did beat all of the flagships in a camera blind test by a tec magazine in Norway just this week. Not bad for a mid ranger. Would rather have 830 than s6 or iP6.
  • I would agree with that, 830 is really a good phone. But the problem here is, lack of high ends. Yeah its true we have high end lumia, but where is the innovation here?! Ok big phone, carl zeiss, fast and brilliant camera, ok were on that, so what's next?! These days!? Were lookong for innovation, new things, not the same one as what we have before. Thats what MS has to work on it.
  • Yes, work on innovative products that will push tech further, but they also need higher end phones. I refuse to use a slower processor.
  • Yeah, we need new feature that haven't been on other brands and os for year rather invented for wp than reinvented like apple
  • Every Lumia has the same OS running. No innovation in that department. In essence, there is no need for a flagship or a phablet.
  • Try to buy 830 in a shop in Norway, or any accessories. Impossible. Even if you manage to find Lumia you want, you can't buy a screen protector or cover or even headset (marked WP compatible) in the same shop...
  • The 930 easily competes with the S6 and iPhone 6. Now if only we had a new version that wasn't a year plus old.
  • Yeah but this competitors are improving little by little every new flagship, every year leaving lumia behind.
  • 640 is a great one, now I just need a top notch replacement for my 1020
  • Low-end AND high-end smartphones are necessary in order to succeed imo.
  • I highly agree
  • That is sound business common sense. Unless your Apple and charge premium prices for a nice looking phone.
  • BLU is CRUSHING it in the low cost high feature department. When people ask for my advice, I, an avid Nokia turn Windows phone user am forced to recommend BLU. It was not until the 535 that I felt safe enough to even consider otherwise. I was also encouraged by the specs of the 640 and more so the XL, however feature for feature for the price sadly I still have no choice but to recommend BLU. I would beseech Microsoft to try harder and think smarter, but I fear that it is just possible that they can't.
  • Maybe no selfies for your niece with the 635 because it has no ffc.
  • Even if its just one flagship phone every other year, if MS ever hopes to establish its cell phone brand bona fides, they MUST produce a cutting edge device. At least get the techies buzzing because a little buzz is so much better than no buzz at all.
  • Still waiting for next update (hopefully stable) i xant roll back to 8.1 because it will wipe my data. And likely im trapped here
  • IMHO the low end devices not only hurt the brand and the brand related quality expectations, but they don't really contribute in increasing the Windows Phone market share. That last one might be as painful.
  • My wife just asked me today if I wanted to upgrade our Lumia 925's on T-Mobile. No upgrade available as far as windows phone goes...can't even find the HTC One M8 for Windows on the T-Mobile site anymore. This stinks
  • I was in the same spot as you two weeks ago. The wife and kid were able to upgrade their phones because they use Samsung and iPhones, but me on a 925 had no option. If I was going on wait for a device on T-Mobile, I'd rather it be at least a 640XL. Since that wasn't happening anytime soon I bought a 1520 as an upgrade. Since Windows phones appear to be nonexistent in the T-Mobile stores, the sales associates eyes popped open when they saw my 1520. They were shocked when I mentioned the phones specs' and when the model came out.
  • I'm in your wife's boat, desperately wanting an upgrade and there's not much out there. I want to remain loyal...
  • Same here
  • @Kristie Ward Hey, this is my wife everybody:-). Hang in there babe, flagships are coming!:-)
  • No, it helps actually, but even low cost Windows Phone is way more expensive, twice or more of the price of similarly spec'd Android devices, unless you live on the US.
  • Windows phone hangs more then any IPHONE
  • Nope.  
  • Lol, if in fact that is happening to you, then it's an extreme rarity. Other than that, do you actually know what hang time is?
  • I'm not talking about the system apps i'm talking about the all experience and no one can deny that iPhones(ios)are more stable than Windows phone if you say otherwise it means that you didn't use a ios7 device or you are a fan boy or blind because i had a lumia 800 and 820 and lumia 925 then another lumia 925 since windows 8.1 things turned around
  • Lies
  • I don't talk about the system apps i'm talking about the all experience and no one can deny this iPhones are more stable than Windows phones
  • Nope. My 830 has never rebooted itself. My iPhones have in the past. WP is ultra stable.
  • I find that hard to believe i was happy with windows phone 7.5 smoothness on my previous lumia 800 and the same with windows phone 8 on my lumia 820 but things changed with windows phone 8.1 and i'm sure its going to be worst with windows 10 , try to use an iPhone 5 with ios 7 and higher and you will see the difference in the experience rarely you will see sum thing like that resuming screen like we have all the time
  • I agree with Amine! I have my 1320, I'm just scrolling my starts screen/ playing music then.... Wallah! My phone hanged! And the worst of it, my phone's battery cannot be removed and It has broken power button! So when this happens to me, I wait till my phone's battery runs out. That is the saddest and most embarrassing part of my windows phone experience and when my classmates uses my phone. I can't defend WP to anyone.
  • You need to swap your hardware. Hangs like that indicate a device fault. Call NokiaCare or whatever it is called these days
  • That would happen with any other Android phone that had a broken power button. Not WP problem, but yours. You'd have to be a moron to blame that on the OS when it is clearly a hardware issue.
  • Phone quality goes down with an abused phone.
  • Well, as far as my experience goes, my Lumia 520 hangs and lags much more than my sister's Android phones. And no, they are very cheap phones with comparable specs. I've even tried a hard reset, but it hasn't helped much. I don't understand why is that the case, as I've seen people telling about the lags in Android all the time. I'm really shocked with the results.
  • I don't know if it hangs more or not since I haven't compared them, but Windows Phone certainly crashes too much when doing ordinary tasks. There are some sites that I could never use reliably on WP8.1 - if they contained too much information for WP's fragile browser tech, they'd crash to the desktop and I could reliably predict when that would happen. Even simple news sites such as The Guardian could be a problem if the article was a particularly long one, or loading the comments could kill it. They've got to fix this for WP10. 
  • Lies, my Lumia 620 bought in 2012 works perfectly smooth, no hangs till now.
  • So AdDuplex data shows the 925 and 920 having considerable market shares in WP. Are these low end devices? Also, what constitutes the large "Other" category. I'm inclined to say various high end phones. The fact that older high end Lumias have a larger share makes me think Nokia/Microsoft have missed the market most recently. Microsoft really need to strike a balance between churning out cheap phones and producing headline grabbing flagships. They only need to look at Samsung and Apple to see how it should be done.
  • Those are still in use partly because there's no compelling WP alternative yet, but partly because they're still good. It's a measure of how well made the phones and the OS are, but it's also a problem for the future. iPhone users see their handset from 9-18 months ago slowing down, and they don't particularly care or blame Apple too much; they upgrade, and they expect to upgrade often. Windows Phone users are not likely to do that in large numbers because they're going to expect their flagship to maintain its value for years to come, so WP would need constant and rapid expansion to match that behaviour.
  • Because those two phone has a selling point, which is camera.
  • They need all kinda high mid low not just low end simple
  • That's what MS doing fo you right now. Give you all the lows you need. You need free too?
  • My lumia 925 at least hangs and lags 5 times a day with + that resuming screen every time i switch apps you may say that is because of apps and tge system is great and smooth ,well yes but the experience that i have in windows phone 8.1 is the most horrible experience i had on any smartphone and i used many phones including iPhones and galaxy phones and lumias like 820 and 800 with windows 8 and 7 then it came windows 8.1 and ruined it all
  • I do think that there dedication to only low end smartphones is a mistake but not a bad one, samsung used to throw out to the public 16 different types of phones and 10 being low end all in 1 year Microsoft is going the right way but it urgently needs flagships and not 1 but at least 3 ( 1 high end compact, 1 phablet, and a Niche.)
  • Another thing I think hurts windows phone are carrier exclusives. Very few people would switch carriers for a Windows Phone.
  • Agreed, when Microsoft releases their high end devices later this year, they need to sell versions in the MS store that are compatible with all carriers for the BYOP market.
  • Major carriers simultaneous launch is also killing WP; its like a treasure hunt to find phones with desired color and features sometimes; the HD7 was the last carrier branded WP I've owned. The rest have been international 720, 925...
  • Kudos @Jason Ward Very well written article. I myself shifted to Windows Phone Ecosystem (Lumia 640 XL) because I am very much impressed by the upcoming Windows 10 and its features. Since last 2-3 years I tried a lot of phones: Lumia 800>Asha 501>Moto X (2013)>OnePlus One>Lumia 640 XL. #supportWindows10
  • @triparnav Thanks a lot! :-) Glad you switched to WP too! Windows 10 I believe will bring A quite a bit to the table. Please stay tuned for Part 2. We're going to look a little deeper at Microsoft's low-end strategy.;-)
  • I am very sorry to say that I will be leaving WP and switch to Galaxy S6 next week, due to lack of proper WP device. This is clear answer to the question asked in the post. Good buy WP. And good luck.
  • Bye!!!!!!!
  • You'll regret it soon after, lesbihonest.
  • @jasminguso If you can hold out until the Windows 10 e announcement I'd suggest waiting a bit longer before you lock yourself in. I'm betting that what's coming is going to be good.:-)
  • I have hardware problems and can not wait. Besides, I do not feel WP 10 will change anything. We do not have apps, and probably will not. What's the point of having WP in your pocket and asking your friend to get you a taxi with Android app? Because the app is not available on WP.
  • I take it you did not watch Build then. Android apps can be compiled for Windows Phone now. So there's a lot changing. They already said they will be releasing a flagship product when Windows 10 for phone comes out.
  • There are few things as annoying as a tool that frustrates you. I hope the S6 fits your needs better.
  • People love the camera on my 920!
  • Yeah, it really is an awesome cam. I still use my 920, until a new flagship comes out.....with nadella on helm, it may never happen....sigh :'(
  • Why you need flagship? WC fan boys are lovin these lows. See how they tout cheap Lumia's are the best selling. And I ask, as compared to what and availabilities? Other Lumia's and emerging countries. They so blind by these stats!
  • Yep! +1020
  • I am sorta sad about my 920's camera. It's really good when lighting is good, but the low light performance was better on my Lumia 620 go figure.
  • Are Low-End Windows Phones Hurting Microsoft's Smartphone Brand?
    Yes, hell yes. And not the devices in themselves. They're fine. And right for the intended markets. But they've no halo model to cast glory down upon them. Samsung have dozens(?) of low-end devices. But everyone associates them with the S6 because the S6 exists. By just racing to the bottom they make it harder to then go uphill. Sammy, meanwhile, straps on a pair of roller skates, adjusts his goggles and hurtles downhill.
  • Think new flagship should be under something other than Lumia brand. Leave the Lumia for low end phones & move on from the Nokia days
  • @2RBau What's on your mind, a Surface branded Windows Phone?:-)
  • Surface with intel processors and lumias with arm processors make sense.
  • Jason, yes, think a Surface Phone styled like the pro nice & square (with detachable keyboard cover) would be really great, especially for fat fingered users like me!
  • That...sounds awful and extremely niche.
  • This'll not work ,at least not here in India. Nokia worked really hard with Lumia brand. People nowadays know windows phone as Lumia ,not Nokia or Microsoft. For them Nokia is that manufacturer who launched 1110 & N8 ,N72 and Microsoft for Windows on their PCs.
    Using surface is like STARTING FROM THE BOTTOM.
  • With all the low-end phones and the Lumia brand becoming associated with that, they need to NOT use the Lumia brand with the next flagship phone. They should keep the Lumia brand for the cheaper phones and start a Surface Phone line that goes head to head with the Galaxy Sx and iPhone x lines. The Surface tablets have a quality and premier price (compared all the cheap Windows tablets out there) so use that and extend it to the top level phones. Surface Phone (flagship) and Surface Phone XL (phablet).
  • I think you have a point about that and that could indeed be a good idea. Even though it's still not too well-known, the Surface brand does stand more for premium and high quality than I feel Lumia ever did. On the other hand, a high-quality Lumia could leverage the Lumia brand while making a high-end Surface phone would risk making the Lumia brand seem even more cheap, so it's kind of a two-edged sword. Releasing Lumia flagships could work out if done right.
  • I definitely agree Microsoft needs to bring out fantastic new flagship models. And they will. I just think now would be the wrong time and do more harm than good. Flagships need Windows 10 to go along. Release Windows 10, make people aware of it and then release a flagship phone. Promote the flagship phone with Windows 10 and promote Windows 10 with the flagship phone. I feel this is the way to go. Releasing a flagship now with a soon-to-be-replaced OS would soon cast it into oblivion and harm Microsoft's phone division. While it's unfortunate that there has been some time without high-end models it's easy to understand and as I feel the right choice. Let Windows Phone 8.1 be the brand for cheap phones that gathers marketshare for Windows Phone, then raise Windows 10 as the premium brand as it's released, not only leveraging existing Windows phones in value to costumers, but also leveraging the flagship's value beyond what Windows Phone 8.1 could ever achieve at this point. I look forward to the next story in this series!
  • And not just Windoes 10 for mobile devices, but the entire ecosystem as a whole. The entire Windows 10 project is called Threshold. Threshold is defined as the magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for a certain reaction, phenomenon, result, or condition to occur or be manifested. With Windows 10 Tech Preview being veiwed favourably by Windows 8.1 critics and the news Xbox One will be updated to the Windows 10 family; both supporting universal apps, things are shaping up nicely. Sure, Microsoft pushes services on other platforms too, but like you said, they should release a halo phone to push Windows 10 (for mobile devices) as the premium platform for all Microsoft services. If you own a PC, a tablet, an Xbox and a Windows Phone, your OneDrive, Office, Xbox Music/Videos, Skype, etc will be all at your fingers tips, etc. That IS the ultimate experience.
  • Agreed, that's what they should go for.
  • @Gatanui Very good points. I agree that timing is critical. Keep an eye out for Part II: Seeds of Success. ;-)
  • Sounds great, looking forward to it! :)
  • A halo phone brings mindshare. Mindshare brings more interest. More interest brings more developers. More apps brings more sales. And thus the cycle continues. Microsoft needs a halo (flagship) phone that not only tops everything they or Nokia has brought before, but matches or bests Samsung and Apple.
  • Halo phone lol
  • .my mom should've bought Lumia 1520, but there's no stock, so she then bought the 930.and people kept looking and saying how good the display and cam of the phone whenever I try to lend to use it sometimes. Ionce owned Lumia 520 then lost it then bought the Lumia 535, and there's really a big difference between the high and low end Lumia, and whenever I use back my Lumia, its kinda feel cheap, coz i get used to the high end. And yeah msft should have TV ads for the high end and not the low end ones coz the affordable Lumia is what people used around near my place and univ..they never know that there's a high end Lumia, and only the techies I know knows about them. They also should advertise the camera prowess of its high end lumias, to wow the public, and they should really make its 9xx and 15xx more luxurious looking.coz its what my friends use to say about their iPhone..
  • They need to promote Lumia big. Their marketing team sucks tbh.
  • this is one of the most extensive articles written about the WP situation.
    great work!
    i, personally, believe that when people go high end, they pay more and hence expect their devices to do it all. and that is exactly where the app gap hurts.
    low end buyers don't bother with that fancy new game or news reader.
    they want a PHONE.
    but high end buyers are obviously disappointed (even i would be) if their phone choice restricts them from enjoying services and experiences their friends on other platforms (who paid as much or less) get to have.
  • @Thanks Pratham! And great points. I hope you enjoy Part 2. We're going to take a closer look a MS strategy. Come back and share!
  • In my opinion, one of the biggest problems that MS have to deal is the bad brand recognition. Like it's cool to say good things about Apple, it's cool to say bad things about MS - even if they aren't true in both situations. It's pretty common to read reviews where there's two weights for the same measure. What is positive or it's not an issue on Android or Apple devices, sometime becomes a bad point to WP (like internal space, or no SD card in some devices, etc.). MS actually have great devices, to me the new L640 it's the best device on the market at that price range, even so, there's a lot of people, journalist, "reviewers", etc., who keep telling bad things about it.  MS needs to improve the brand awareness to be easer to sell flagship devices. Because of the brand awareness, and only because of the brand, Apple sells million of overpriced devices and everybody keeps saying "amazing" about every "crap" they put on the market. That's the main difference between Apple and MS when it comes to brand recognition. MS may put on the market the best ever flagship that will keep get bad and not fundamented opinions.  (note: sorry about my english).
  • It's (saddly) been 'cool' to hate MS for a long time.
  • I really can't believe there are people who are confused by the WP UI.
  • Come to Saudi ;)
  • They're not confused; they're afraid of change
  • Not buying it either. Some people on this site are really trying hard to convince you that a big reason WP didn't take off was because it didn't have enough hamburger menus.
  • I can. Most people like the phone but find the OS confusing and too much of a mess. To much information for them.
  • Yeah, seems weird. All the major OS UIs work basically the same way after all.
  • Well we have to look into the past for judgments,
    MSFT took a big step in acquiring Nokia's devices division.
    With that, windows 10, and the cloud first approach... All MS is going for is the kill with windows 10! So if anything... Windows 10 release with new flagships will make or break the 3% of the users left! Interesting times ahead. P.S. such a beautiful article! Eye pleasing!
  • Great article... This is what I expect from Windows Central. Kudos.
  • @Stefan Thanks! We really try to serve the readers great content. Thanks for the positive feedback.
  • Jason, kudos from me as well as this is honestly one of the best articles I've ever read on Windows Central. Informative, well written and straight to the point.
  • @conansaga I appreciate that feedback. Thanks so much:-)
  • People just need to relax and wait for Windows 10 and the by then released flagship phones.
  • @skie77 Flagships are indeed on the horizon!
  • i think so. people see windows phones as cheap phones. so maybe they dont consider it as cool.
  • You should explain your niece that what you get with any Lumia for its price is superior to what you get with a similarly priced Lagdroid. Oh and no lag. I lost count of all the people I met with complaints of low internal storage space to install apps, no ability to install apps to SD card to solve this issue, and of course sluggishness and lag on their budget phones. Besides, let's not compare Nokia Lumias with Microsoft Lumias. Nokia couldn't afford thin profit margins, hence the cuts on front facing camera and LED flash. Microsoft has clearly shown with Lumia 640 line and also recently launched 4xx and 5xx models that this problem is gone.
  • You hit on a lot of good points, but not the one that really matters, the shelves in the app store have huge gapping holes. Until Microsoft fixes this (AND NOT BY ADDING ANDROID APPS) what you see now (3%) is what you will always get!   
  • Agreed. Solve by making the platform attractive with native apps running on a product that stands out from the crowd and pleasing to use, not by saying FTS, let's get Android apps, that will solve it. 
  • .and their next flagship should be thinner or as thin as its rival.xD
  • And please make a really nice TV ad that will make them say "I wanna try that one".
  • Great article! MS just don't give a shit about their flagships and even don't introduce a predecessor
    MS needs to improve the high-end marketing strategy.
    I will be waiting for today's BUILD conference..MS got a last chance to change everyone's perception about their OS & it better be good.
  • Flagship, flagship, flagship. Really? The future lays on bringing premium features to affordable phones. Chinese Android models are showing this, creating some difficulties to Samsung Galaxy by presenting premium features for much lower prices. If stupid people insist on buying overpriced shit and conform with large profit margins of their preferred brand, it's their own stupidity problem.
  • Every company who make mobile devices has a flagship every 6 months or a year.Even Chinese OEM's like Xiaomi are dominating the world mobile market by introducing their Flagship after every 6 months or less than that.
    Even if they are cheaper than other flagships they sports similar hardware like rest of them. So now what about a company that is more than 30 years old and has big name in Electronic Industry located at Redmond can't produce a Flagship device? Why?
  • Because at this point no one will pour money at a flagship that can't run Snapchat! It's pointless. This simple. You have to establish your platform first by making it attractive for app developers. And you only get that with market share. As WP runs well on limited hardware, it's well suited for the job of filling pockets around with cheap handsets, because at this point no one with more than 200-300€ to apply on a smartphone will use it on a Lumia rather than an Droid or saving for an iPhone/Galaxy.
  • Are you serious for real nigga?
    Lets not talk about shitty snapchat app that "WANNABES" use to get their face covered with alphabets.
    Speaking about OS I just want to ask you a question "Are you in Windows Insider Program?" Because if you're not then you might be the one person who haven't experienced W10.
  • A flagship's primary purpose would be to promote the platform and show the best it can do. Even if people would opt for cheaper phones (as most people do), a good flagship would improve perception of the platform.
  • Your conclusion was spot on. Nice article. Actually read through it without skipping. Microsoft really needs to hire some better people for their marketing and promotions.
  • @WP8_Lover Thanks. It's difficult for enthusiasts to watch the unfolding of Microsoft's strategy. They're a huge company with a huge challenge trying to catch-up in the mobile space they let slip by them. Keep an eye out for Part 2. We're going to look a little deeper at what MS is planting and what they hope to reap.;-)
  • Yeah, I look forward to part 2. I guess the negative publicity that they got before venturing into mobile is also hurting them now. By negative publicity, I mean Micro$oft. And, the change, a good one nonetheless, that they introduced with Windows 8 - Modern didn't impress or even please the "good ol' XP" enthusiasts as well. Oh well, let us see.
  • Currently am using Lumia 925....i just love it..awesome design, quality camera, amazing display.....#WP_DIEHARD
  • Too long, didn't read.
  • Now I'm starting to support the idea that the Surface Phone would be a better name than Lumia 940...
  • But still, I would personally prefer Lumia 940 than Surface Phone
  • Personally I support "nick names" for flagships to make them stand out a bit more, but still keep the numbering as well. Lumia 940 "Aphrodite", for example (marketing people can surely think of better names).
  • Great piece
  • @Thanks Albert!
  • Together with low budget smart phones... What we need is a Surface type quality Flagship.. Make an awesome design..Metal finish,Better Dispaly,Fingerprint Scanner,Thin,better battery,better front and back camera,and a possible big size variant as well ...
    Plus all the apps in other platforms must be there in our store...
    That will give us a breakthrough..
  • @Yasser Stay tuned for Part 3 in this series Rules of Engagement. ;-) It will follow Part 2 Seeds of Success.
  • The compliant i see in the reviews of a lumia product is not about the apps. People know clearly that windows phone lacks apps.
    The thing that they compliant is "why they use outdated processors in phone?"
    In my class, i am the only one who own a windows phone. When i give it to them, they are much surprised about its ui, the live tiles etc..
    And when they ask for a feedback about my phone, I'd say this and that limitation over android and after hearing my words they consider windows phone product is waste.
    Windows 10 must add each and every features that it is missing to stay in the game.
  • Great Message in support of WP!! And i guess it will change the game... ONE DAY!!
  • Yes indeed they are.
  • Very nicely written article Jason. Kudos.
  • @Thanks Frustbite! I glad you enjoyed it.:-)
  • Excellent article. Well written. I agree with all the points mentioned. The general consumer is also confused on the difference between a Microsoft and Nokia phone. This hurts the labeling and brand even more.
  • @Thanks kesken! I appreciate the feedback!
  • Au contraire! Budget Windows phones will give curious Android users a reason to try WP. I'm excluding iOS users because they are manically fixated on status so they'll never buy anything cheap. But up until the 640 the bang for buck level in Android (mostly from the Moto G and Nexus 5) hasn't been matched, not nearly. I would've never payed a similar price for a WP phone with a low-res screen when I could get a better spec'd Android phone for the same price. I've been reading WC for several years without owning a WP device, but now I'm just waiting for the first price drop on the 640.
  • @mertzi Thanks so much for that perspective!
  • Look there in a place for low and high just with Microsoft you get the same old song slow on everything they need a good high end device if the 1520was not so exclusive it would have had better sales.
  • Microsoft seems obsessed with remaining relevant and is focussed too much on market share instead of producing good technology.
  • What MS needs is respecting its own goals. "Microsoft is the productivity company" for 14 years old girl means making selfies, for someone else it means something else. And even in sence of business productivity they are not respecting it since it doesn't show i.e. Contact folders. And since it is not respecting its own goals why anyone should buy it since we all can do our productivity better on other platforms. You can even connect easily to Exchange server with Apple or Android than with WP. On the top of that come never coming flagships, crippled mid-ranges, etc. So who buys it? We who wanted it, and that is not enough for success.
  • THANK YOU! *CLAPS* And that's why going after Android apps on Windows Phone or releasing Microsoft products for iOS/Android is absolute suicide. Who cares if the teens can't do snapchat on WP? Let WP be appelative to productive people and be exclusive to them. Let's not be so greedy that we need forcefully to take all marketshare to Android, but instead gather a solid 20% at first by appealing to productivity, a more selective market. If the WP apps are just ported Android apps and if Microsoft services can easily be used on Android (sometimes with more features released early), why buy Lumias at all? Why care about WP at all then? RIGHT? Cortana on Android for example, for me is a waste of effort that could go to making WP exclusive and desirable.
  • No, releasing Android or iOS apps isn't suicide. Office was exclusive to WP for some time and it didn't help marketshare, on the other hand releasing them on Android on iOS did not hurt WP marketshare either, all the while Office 365 subscription numbers are constantly increasing with no sign of a turn. Microsoft apps definitely need to be as good on WP as on other systems and ideally better, which is not the case right now but hopefully will with Windows 10. If you keep them exclusive to WP, they aren't going to gain nearly as many users.
  • And the reason for that is because, contrarly to all the fanatism spread since the first iPhone launch, people continue using desktops and laptops for real productivity, not phones and tablets. Destops and laptops are not dying. They simply last longer, therefore their sales drop in comparison with mobile devices. Today's mobile devices are still not comparable to proper desktop computing devices when it comes to productivity. This is the area Microsoft should strike first, in making its mobile devices the most productivity-friendly around. And they got it completely right with Surface and Surface Pro. This productivity first should be an exclusive mantra of Windows Phone, creating a specific need for some potential costumers to jump ship from Android. You can't snapchat on Windows Phone. Well you can't do spreadsheets with advanced features on Android. This is the way it should be!
  • You can do *both* on the iPhone 6 Plus.
  • Nadella has done a few things right, but his (everyone else's) "mobile first, cloud first" coined phrase is laughable.
    WP market share is sliding, W10 is a couple months from RTM with an inferior UX to W8, and this insistence on OneDrive integration without a touch-friendly app or placeholders is completely tonedeaf.
  • UX is entirely relative, yet so far reception of Windows 10 UX has been overwhelmingly positive, especially compared to Windows 8.x. Unless you are talking about the mobile version, in which case I don't have sufficient data in one way or the other. I suspect we haven't seen all of OneDrive on Windows 10 yet.
  • If the message can also be pushed, I think even the midrange would benefit from a smarter release cycle. With a new "generation", MS needs to present the flagship first. Then release the devices that are a compromise. I I've been ready for something that feels like a smart upgrade from my L900 for forever. 925 would have been smart, but was a year old already. 930 in US was VZ-only which was a deal breaker. Assumed it would be followed by a 935 and didn't upgrade. 520 as a minimum investment "temporary" solution. Now 640 coming soon so waiting for 940 specs/pricing/carrier info. Hell, the 640 or 840 might be the perfect compromise, but not while the 940 isn't even available for comparison shopping yet. Is that just me?
  • Nadella is the real architecture of WP destruction. There is no logical argument against that. They cancelled the development of high end device(McLaren) and diverted resources in making cheap phones, software developers towards the development of MS services for rival platforms. But they failed to understand, competition should have been taken at the device level not OS level. They should have changed the device nomenclature, position Lumia devices at different levels of market and compete with others. People go for Galaxy brand not android, similarly people don't care about iOS, they care about iPhone by Apple. MS terribly failed here. As mentioned in the article, Lumia is not a quality brand anymore because the perception has changed. It will only hurt MS in the long run.
    They should have released a high quality device before holiday season. Then work on Windows 10 up to next holiday season and release the device in the fourth quarter. In this way they would have more time for development. But now they are in panic mode which will destroy the windows phone forever.
  • McLaren may have been cancelled for technical reasons or because Microsoft thought releasing a flagship would not be too beneficial in the timeframe before Windows 10 (which I agree with). I suspect we may see McLaren features in this year's flagship phones but only way to find out is to wait and see.
  • What i have observed is that Lumia battery life had gone for bad with the 8.1 software..... Who here thinks the same way??
  • maybe because of poor firmware. personally, im using w10 preview, so not even close to a "with-firmware" OS, and since they fixed the inability to turn off mobile data, my battery is good. maybe, i said MAYBE, even better than on 8.1 +denim. i have a 535.
  • Seriously with Lumia 730, with Lumia denim, 8.1....i lose around 15% per hour with normal usage.... And by normal usage i mean like using 6tag, wpcentral, 10min of watching videos, etc....i have kept a track of its battery life through the 'Battery' and honestly that is not expected from a Lumia... With Lumia 720(with wp8.0), i literally used to go without a charger for 2-3 days with HEAVY USAGE!!!
  • No. It is about the same. But phone batteries get worse over time so it could just be you're phone is getting older
  • I have had my Lumia 730 for like 4-5 months only....
  • You are comparing a 4G phone to a 3G phone which based on your network coverage can make a difference to battery life too.
  • Lumia 720 and lumia 730 are both 3g phones....
  • So if that is the case then what do u recommend...shall i go to nokia care(although they wouldnt do much, just hard reset it or something) or buy a new battery?
  • My battery life is terrible on my 920, and only got worse with 8.1. I even had the phone replaced and its still terrible
  • I know the feel buddy....its like u own a LUMIA which is(OR SHOULD BE) equivalent to gr8 battery life....but the bitter truth is exactly opposite :( :(
  • I hope Mr. Satya Nadella will read this article.
    I do believe Microsoft's device can be even cheaper without compromising the hardware and still provide a good user experience to the users. An example of that is Xiaomi. Their phones are dirt cheap. But the specs are real good. Ppl don't even care what operating system it runs. In fact a lot of ppl doesn't even know that it runs MIUI that is based on Android. Ppl just want some thing that is cheap but not compromising hardware too much. When 640XL is announced in my country, lots of ppl get excited with the specs, but the price point disappointed everyone. With the same price they can get a xiaomi which has better specs.
  • I have a high end device, the Lumia 930, and love the phone. But, there is no decent difference between it and my mum's 920 regarding software. I think MS should consider making a 'Pro' version of the OS fir high end phones to differentiate, similar to the PC OS. Also maybe the option to change shapes of the tiles, not just squares. That could help draw Android and iOS fans as it breeds familiarity. Lastly, the app store need a massive reboot and needs the big players on board. If that means allowing Android app to work, then so be it. Regardless of what Win fans say, its a deal breaker to non Win fans. ​ ​ ​ ​
  • The high end devices used to have pro features like global mapping and still do in terms of camera functionality. Android really doesn't do this. Typically the hardware defines the high end features that only exist on the top phones
  • The problem MS have now is they have made us wait for a flagship for so long that any phone less than phenomenal will be trashed in the press. They only have one chance to get this right, so fingers crossed they are going to be brave & have listened to their existing users & can deliver a knock out phone when they launch Win10. God I hope so.
  • @2RBau I think your right. I believe MS is really aware that thier Windows 10 flagship must be Blockbuster! I
  • Very interesting. I enjoyed reading it.
  • @ivgentis Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it!:-)
  • If they had High and Low end phones no, but just low end like now, yes
  • Well done. I think that one rule Microsoft forgot is that products need to be aspirational in nature and without a halo model (Corvette, iPhone 6, Galaxy 6) there is nothing that imbues the entire brand with that kind of "This is where I want to be. This is where I am heading in life" quality that successful brands have (Gucci, Ferrari, D&G, Apple). Honestly, Satya, productivity is NOT a turn-on to most people. I mean, I don't want a Ferrari because it will make me more productive.
  • This may be the way the "general public" thinks before making a smartphone purchase, but you gotta have your work done by the end of the day. Or do you use the phone just for showing off? Making WP desirable as a platform for productivity is enough to gather a solid marketshare that could become faithful to the platform and from that build brand awareness.
  • You get your work done on a computer, your phone is for everything else. No one buys a phone to be productive, they buy phones because they like them, either for looks, apps, features.
  • This is the current state of things, but if Microsoft invests in productivity side, it can improve. Watch how Surface tablets are easily the best tablets for productivity. You need serious work? You buy a surface, not an Android tab or even a iPad. This is the kind of market Microsoft has to appeal to grow in first place, not to the Snapchat crowd. Besides productivity doesn't not mean only writing essays. For instance, having the best personal AI assistant around managing your digital life is a boost on anyone's workflow. If well designed and implemented, could relieve me from some tedious tasks. Port Cortana for Android and there it goes the exclusive advantage that could actually appeal some people to change.
  • Surface has about the same market share as Windows Phones do. No power there. 
  • Clearly, Windows Phone hasn't enough appeal to the "General Public."
  • Buying a smartphone has more to do with *emotional engagement* than it does by giving lip service to a device's productivity bona fides. Blackberrys were productive too, yet look where the company is at now. Apple and Samsung understand that.  Microsoft never did----this is why the 'smoked by Windows' campaign was so wrong headed. The iPad commercial, that shows a parent Facetiming with his wife and newborn child, perfectly illustrates that. Right now, Microsoft has to deal with the fact that Windows (for Mobile) is not a very good social networking device (without a very good Facebook, a non official third party Instagram app, no Snapchat, no Periscope, and a limited Twitter app).    It may not be important to *you*, but to that 20 year old, purchasing her first smartphone, to connect with her friends online, it's the *most* important.    
  • Well said!  And while the Smoked by Windows campaign had a great point, it ultimately, was a productivity pitch - showing how fast you could get something done by using a phone that none of your friends had.   
  • What? You say you don't you buy a Ferrari to get faster to your workplace and have additional minutes of productivity there? :P
  • Very good point... everyone recognizes the iPhone series or the Galaxy series, but there is no flagship series in the Lumia lineup... We need a "Surface" type of brand name on a flagship phone.  May be a bit lengthy though... Microsoft Lumia "Swagger 1", "Swagger 2", etc...  
  • Whats the use of a Flagship if its released months after the announcement when the hype has fizzed out and only available in handful of countries/carriers.  Also, there might not be much lag as compared to Android, but resuming screen is just as bad. And the apps open slower compared with iOS/Android counterparts. Camera on my Lumia 920 takes lots of time to open, by the time I can take one photo, my wife can take 3-4 on her iPhone. And MS also needs to provide a robut/powerful API so that Devs can create new experiences. And they also need to stop resetting their development platform every 2 years.
  • Thing is, your 920 was a flagship over two years ago. With the large number of updates to the OS we have had since then, it is going to slow down eventually by nature of technology. Eventually updates can and do outstrip hardware. My own 920 just died and I replaced it with a 635 and there are some things, like talking pictures, that are faster on the 635 by virtue of newer hardware.
  • I agree the "resuming" issue seems to be getting worse. I originally read many months ago this was due to apps not being written for Win8.1 but that is obviously not true. I seem to get it all the time on my L1020
  • No, cuz of I compare low end windows phone with low end android, WP still has good opportunity. Yes, if I compare with high end phone, what I have is only 1520 to fight with other OS.
  • Arguably the article is partly out of date as all of Microsoft's new budget phones have 1gb RAM and a FFC. But yes, Nokia didn't help things for a while with the 635/520 even though they are great value phones.
  • @realwarder Valid observation. But remember the merits of the article are representative if what consumers are seeing in the "wild". The newer devices, having just been released within recent weeks don't have enough share to alter the stats quite yet. The most recent, April adduplex data still show 520 and 63x series ruling the roost. :-)
  • I agree that these legacy devices are tainting perception. But I do think it has been realized by Microsoft and addressed as even the cheapest phone now has a FFC. I think lack of apps like SnapChat I the next issue still preventing common acceptance. Your young relative would not have been happy with the 635 even with an FFC... But that's a whole other story and one I'm interested to hear about from the Build event
  • Also, like other people, enjoyed the article. Thanks
  • @realwarder Thanks for the feedback. Glad you joined the discussion!:-)
  • What an excellent editorial. Can't wait to read part 2.
  • @ladydias Thanks so much!
  • good article. i like it. im just bothered by horizontal scroll on sway pres that i dont even read them, i dont know why.
  • @Alexander0311 Thanks fir that feedback!:-)
  • What hurts is that there are no major flagship devices released at the same time. What really hurts is forcing people to buy the 1520 from china since it wasn't released globally. This is the major problem. 99% of devices are not released in Canada. Why? Many other countries suffer a similar problem. And its not only the 1520 that is a hard find.
  • Now the big question... Stick with Lumia for the flagship or switch to Surface? Surface seems to resonate well with a higher end market.
  • Exactly....people really find it difficult to operate a windows device the first time they use it. Also the marketing is not so good. Very nicely written Article.
  • @Ashish Thanks!:-)
  • I had the exact opposite experience. Windows Phone is really pleasant and easy to use. Whenever I have to touch a recent Android I feel completely lost. Not sure how other people could find Windows Phone difficult to navigate really.
  • Same here. My wife, computer literate but retisent to change, actually embraced the UI and prefers it over iOS, which she had a lot of experience with. That being said, she hates her 925 with a passion hotter than 5 suns (start screen keeps dropping down over and over and over, can't fix it) and her 8x was a horrible piece of hardware, but she love the UI. She wants to run WP on an iPhone...lol.
  • Biggest issue is the release process and the months it takes to get announced phones into peoples hands. That needs fixing first. Announce and buy. Not announce and wait six months...
  • I need to print this to read the full article.
  • I really hope that Microsoft finds a way to get Android apps on Windows Phone.  I love Windows Phone UI and would like to continue to use it but I'm tired of not having access to major "niche" apps (local news apps, major amusement park apps, bank apps, etc.)   It's part of the reason I'm using Android now.  I also agree that the phone needs a tutorial on how to use.  I lent my 635 to a friend over the weekend and he gave it back to me hastily.  He said he couldn't understand it.  The UI is amazing to use but has a serious learning curve with all the "long press" features and pinning of apps.  Also, Microsoft should consider to include a "simple mode" where all the tiles are just one size.  I think many people just don't care to turn their tiles into a work of art, especially the elderly.  The resizing and rearranging of tiles can be a feature that many people just don't want to deal with.
  • Microsoft needs to acquire a stronger brand recognition before they release any kind of flagship if you ask me. I agree that anew flagship is needed, but they need to get people to know it exists and why they should consider it over a Samsung galaxy or iPhone. Otherwise releasing a flagship right now would just be a waste, because nobody would know it exists. Sure all of us tech nerds who keep up on Microsoft news everyday will know about it and crave a flagship, but the mass consumer base aren't nerds or keep up with the dirt on Microsoft, so they don't know about what's going on. I bet a majority of them don't even know Windows 10 is months away from being released. Microsoft needs to fire the old hags they have had in their marketing team for years and do something that will get people to recognize them and call their Surface and Windows Phone by their respected titles, and not just an "iPad like device". This has always been Microsoft's problem, and they always ignore it when people tell them of it. Sure they're going to release great products and put them in the hands of businesses and consumers, but how are you going to do that when you hardly advertise your products? It's literally been probably 2 or 3 months since I seen a Windows related ad on TV, and just the other day I seen the same Samsung Galaxy commercial twice in one day. They need to make a stronger push in their marketing once they release windows 10, but I guarantee you they wont.
  • Microsoft needs to get its branding in order. I picked these devices (521, 8x, 535) because they are so stable in the low - midrange devices. Personally I'd rather buy my device outright if possible. Its productivity but its also a map app that works without having to refresh the internet every second. Its a phone I can quickly get a last minute paper or touch up on a project. Its a pretty good OS in my opinion and I'm constantly fighting a ride of neigh sayers. Even when if I would be at a phone store people still scoff at the devices that have windowsphone.
  • I remember back when I first got my Lumia 1020, I'd pull it out on an elevator or on the street and get berated with questions, genuine interest: "Is that the phone with the camera??", "Can I see??", "How do you like Windows Phones?". Microsoft has done a ton to reimage themselves lately but if they don't see the value in a flashy, high-end phone and the effect it has on the platform... They're still as behind the times as the old stereotype entailed... I understand the shift toward low-end devices, but without any sort of powerhouse phone being pushed, and only these 512, slow devices to carry the WP flag, it makes the entire platform look like its a lesser option.
  • Microsoft phones = cheap and simple
    Surface tablets = quality and innovation
    Surface phone = sleek, sophisticated style... Please just do it
  • P.s the article was interesting and beautifully written Jason
  • Great article!
  • I chose Windows phone because i'm not Windows fan. I just want a secure phone and not-too-lagging phone. And gladly I have used lumia 520 for 2 years and I didn't want to buy another phone because the phone is still good to use.
  • I have always wondered if they are waiting for the flagship so "eveyone" upgrades to that phone at the same time.  If they wait long enough till W10 then besides the low end phones, everyone that runs WP will be ready for an upgrade.  That will reset the upgrade cycles for all the higher end phones(say 700 models and up) and produce a single phone that will show better sales numbers. They could be craming all the high end features into one phone instead of having mulitple high end devices.  BUT looking how many low end models with small differeneces I feel this wont happen.  
  • The Point is nobody wants to work with phones... Microsoft thinks like everyone wants to edit excell files in their free time...
    People wish product that give the feeling of something special, people wants to feel special....I don't feel nothing special on use office....
  • 100 million Office downloads on Android and iOS tend to dispute this
  • But that those people already have Android or iPhones shows that Office is NOT what triggers a phone purchase.  
  • Excellent article Jason! Especially in the very iphone/android minded the Netherlands people often don't know what exactly a Windows Phone is. Even sales reps in mobile phone stores. A sales rep saw my Windows Phone and he asked me if "those Windows Phones are good phones". He's a sales rep, he should know, but whatever. I showed him what my Windows Phone could do and he was amazed! Telling me he didn't know that Windows Phones are these great phones that are positively different than the competition. Those sales reps are NOT well educated here when it comes to selling Windows Phones. Also the Netherlands lacks proper marketing for WP's. Marketing is definitely NOT high on Microsoft's list over here which is a real shame.
  • Yes, this strategy is killing Windows Phone. Sales don't equal dollars for Microsoft, in this case. People might buy low-margin devices, but it isn't boosting the bottom line appreciably. As for your point about Samsung taking a bite out of Apple, that all stopped in 2014. I tie this to your "volume" strategy because marketshare means nada. Android controls 80% of the market, but Apple controls 80% of the profit and has the superior app developer community and accessories market. Nobody is developing for WP or Android first and iOS second because profit is the only metric that matters. The majority of Android OEMs is operating in the red in mobile...just like Microsoft. Microsoft has the luxury of Android OEMs subsidizing the WP ecosystem through patent royalties. I fully expect that Build will be more of the same old "But, Windows!" with nothing of substance or help coming from Microsoft for fans of their platforms. Besides, even if they announced a mind-blowing 1020 successor (Never happen), why would anyone bother? The best Microsoft apps and experience aren't even on their own platform, it's on iOS. Windows, as a mobile brand, is good and dead, and nothing Microsoft can do now will change that. They waited too long, and now they are the Blu of the big players. "Develop Once, Everywhere" would have been a good strategy two years ago, but nobody is developing Windows apps and nobody is developing Windows Phone apps, so the sum of that will be the same as it is now.
  • I've said it before and I'll say it again, MS needs to reserve the Surface branding for their next flagship phone. People will associate it with the only other top-selling MS product and they'll immediately associate it's quality too. They can keep Lumia for all their dozens of mid to low range models. Do you see Samsung calling every one of their phones a Galaxy Sxx?
  • PEOPLE ARE NOT ENAMORED WITH BEING PRODUCTIVE. People want to have fun. People want to relax. People want to be relieved of boredom. People want to communicate with their friends, see what they are up to and easily share their own stories. They want to leave work at work and go hang at the beach with their beautiful and interesting friends. Windows Phone's original People Hub made that easy. Now, not so much. But, don't take my word for it? Check out the colleagues in the cubes around you. How many have a game running underneath that spreadsheet they are analysing? People want joy and pictures and music - ergo the popularity of Instagram and vine...and iPhone and Android...not Excel spreadsheets! Hell, Windows Phone can't even play music in a half-decent fashion.  And you wonder why it has no presence in the market?
  • I'll try to be prudent here, THE 2 new 640 models surely are representative of the low end of the platform inventory and NOT MID RANGE as described by Windows Central reviewers. IF MICROSOFT don't get that fact, as the reviewers certainly don't, then perhaps Lumia devices should and will remain AFFORDABLE DEVICES.
    Cheers from DOWN UNDER.
  • Kudos for the article, man. You beauty. Loved it :)
  • @electodude16 Thanks so much!!!
  • I was a big fan of wp till I used android! Android is way ahead of wp just look at the apps & games. You can change ui of android using launchers...u can change keyboard,clock, all stock apps, everything. microsoft is launching all its apps on android & google don't have a single app in wp! wp may grow in future but right now it sucks and I won't waste my money on wp. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • 3% is ms fault not the consumers. Went to local att store and only 2 WP on display 635,830. Meanwhile the store is wrapped in apple and androids! No choices , no marketing, no sales!
  • There are enough low end devices right now. My HTC one m8 is the highest end windows phone and I haven't seen a single ad except for the Microsoft website.
  • Yes, it shows that without the help of Nokia IP (The core PEOPLE, not with microkia any more) it cannot do a thing. The big giants come, think they can bring their marketing/management along and make a revolutionary product, instead make a mess and walk off
  • Right thinking but a little too late. You see, out of the USA, the Chinese have swept the Android market from Samsung and halted the Iphone mania. High spec phones at Lumia low end phone prices are the mainstream offerings now. And yes, for the little girl, she can have a high res FFC Chinese brand phone that works with wireless selfie sticks. Even her uncle's top end Lumia 1520 cant work with the stick. What a shame.....
  • Microsoft needs market share, nuff said
  • I too will be jumping ship in August and with the Technical Preview 6 apps including the band that won't update. But I think the biggest problem for the platform is the lack of apps and then no updates
  • At least my phone brand is still Nokia, not cheap microsoft :p     Microsoft is doing great job on low end phones compared than Nokia did... here in my country it sells more than mcdonald's burger lel
  • I would love to be more productive on my Windows Phone. Were is the Bluetooth keyboard option? Oh yeah, on iOS and Android.
    And, as for cheap, why was my "affordable flagship" not all that affordable?
  • Like 99.9% of the people commenting here (probably 100%), I have never created nor marketed a mobile phone/mobile OS. However, I do work in marketing and MS's decisions really make me scratch my head. Here is my 2 cents as armchair marketer for MS: Make 3 phones/year: Under $100 tier (new brand name to denote inexpensive) Middle tier (this is your Lumia for $300-40) Flagship (Surface phone for $600-700) Drop all the numbers and XLs and other things that just confuse people. What normal human being knows that the 600 series is low-end and the 900 series is high-end? It sounds geeky and, bottom line, isn't cool. Using my suggestion, if someone asks what phone you have, you simply say, "it's a Lumia" or "it's a Surface." I think offering tiers is good, so long as the structure is obvious, like above. It also helps to not dilute your main brand - for example, if Surface is your premium brand, you don't offer a "Surface Lite" phone thereby cheapening the Surface name. I cannot be rooting for MS anymore than I am. I am mad at them, the tech bloggers and consumers for not giving WP a chance. As MS emasculates WP with each passing day, I can only imagine how great the platform would have been had it been a success.
  • Completely agree with you, I've been saying the same since MS bought Nokia's phone division.  Use the Lumia name and design on low/midrange phones and let the Surface team come up with a premium phone in the style of the Surface that can compete with the likes of the iPhone and Galaxy S6.  Personally I love the Lumia design language, but it's certainly not to everyone's taste, especially at the premium end of the market.  
  • BTW: PHAT is an acronym for "Pretty Hot And Tempting" TL;DR
    Having a bunch of low end devices does not exactly hurt the Lumia lineup. There is a market, a large market, for dirt cheap devices like the 5xx and 6xx devices. It is good that they have devices in that range, and it is also good that they get a refresh every year. Every lineup needs an entry point, and every brand needs that 'cheap replacement' phone for those who break their flagships and are not ready to drop a lot of money replacing it yet. Maybe an argument can be made that the 4xx lineup is not so great as it is much worse than the rest of the lineup while not being any cheaper (and often found to be more expensive), but even that I suspect is a temporary problem. The thing that hurts (at least on the hardware end) is broad availability and a lack of aspirational flagship hardware.
    If I walk into ATT I can pick up a handful of refurbished devices (that a sales person will try and talk me out of), and the 830, and that is it. No more low end devices (though you can get a Windows Go Phone 5xx device and throw in an ATT sim card... but store reps do not advertise that), and no more flagships; just a single solitary device that is an OK but not great, and horribly overpriced for what it is.
    ATT never even got the 930, the rest of the world got the 930 several months after the Icon came out making it old before it was even released (btw, what kind of exclusivity deal removes a device from the whole world? Typically it is a noncomplete clause within specific markets). To my knowledge few markets even got the 73x 'selfie phone', and there are holes in the lineup in every carrier and every nation. It is not just the high end devices you cannot find... you just cannot find Lumia devices. Having a smaller lineup that is broadly available would go a long way to fixing that.
    As for aspirational hardware goes, I have to say that the 1520 and 930 are nice devices. I have been very tempted to purchase both devices several times as my 920 is not getting any younger. The problem is that I am not too keen on purchasing a device that is already towards the end of it's lifecycle. I understand that MS had to cancel their last gen of flagships that were supposed to release last fall, and what is happening now was not 'plan A'... but a statement to the effect of 'we are a quality company and unfortunately the plans for our next gen flagship did not live up to standards so we will have to skip a generation. Until then enjoy these other devices, and expect a new flagship to come out in the future.' That would be much more encouraging, understandable, and relatable than 'we are going to focus all efforts on low-end devices' with no word on new flagships for over a year.
    And the flagship does not need to be earth-shatteringly amazing to be good. No yearly refreshed flagship is surprisingly better than the previous generation anymore, and most people keep a device for 2-3 years so that by the time they are ready for a new device it is earth-shattering. But having more than a year between products makes it so that people do not know when to jump into the ecosystem. Seeing a 12+ month device on the shelf really makes one wonder if their new shiny device is going to be out-dated in mere months rather than having a full year to 'be on top'... and lets face it: Phone hardware is cheap, dirt cheap. It does not cost $700-1000 to make a flagship device. You pay that premium for bragging rights and to support the brand, and many people have no problem paying it. Not having a yearly refresh makes current owners feel good about their purchase longer, but it keeps new blood out of the ecosystem which is bad. At any rate, having low end hardware is not bad; in fact it is a very good thing. But without making the devices available to purchase in the first place, or having aspirational devices so that you know you can move up to later, keeps people out of the system, which not only hurts sales of those classes of devices, but really hurts the sales of the lower-end counterparts.
  • Even though Microsoft has promised new high end phones coming with the next platform iteration some people just can't shut up. They're just like the annoying kids in the back seat going "are we there yet" "are we there yet" "are we there yet".
  • That's because it matters when we finally get there.  I really want to stay with WP, but my contract on my 1020 is up in a couple of months and it desperately needs replacing so if MS don't announce something soon I'll have to go to another platform.  And I can't be the only one in that boat; I know the 1020 wasn't a huge seller, but its owners have probably been the platform's strongest advocates over the last couple of years because we had a device that no ther platform could come close to matching.  I know I convinced a fair few people to join WP on the strangth of the 1020 and my love for it and the platform needs its cheerleaders, especially with MS paying more attention to developing markets.   All we need is for them to release one truly special device to give us something to crow about again.  Few things can sell a device like a recommendation from a trusted friend, but there needs to be something worth recommending!
  • Great article. Good read.
  • Good article, which rings true as I post from my ageing Lumia 820. Still holding off buying Lumia 620/XL as they lack features I currently have. Eg Wireless charging and better video / HAAC recording to name just 2
  • i wanna flagship without ffc
  • In a word, yes.
  • Yes.... And dropping the Nokia moniker is hurting also
  • I've been saying it is killing it for a while.
  • As a (dare I say it) Sprint customer, I see all too well the absolute truth in this article. Only being offered a Samsung Ativ S Neo or HTC 8XT, I bought the HTC. Not a Samsung fan. Now that upgrade time is here, my only offering is a 635. Definitely not an upgrade. Obviously Sprint was never big on WP, but flooding the market with low end devices won't make them enthusiastic about looking into carrying more.
  • God article Jason.   But my view of the situation is that Microsoft is slowly losing marketshare and will have to give up if people dont start bying more WP devices. And why is that? I live in Sweden and I can see it clearly. There is absolutely no marketing or advetising going on for Windows Phone. On TV all you se is iPhones and Galaxy phones being promoted directly and indirectly by all companies in the phone business. So no people know about the WP devices and the sellers are really not caring about WP and steer customers to the iPhone or Galaxy phones... So this week I am in San Francisco and I am eager to se what Microsoft are doing here... But my hopes for a future for WP phone dies quickly. On the way from the Airport to my hotel in downtown SF I se at least three superbig advertisements along the road for how good pictures iPhone takes (wasn't that a WP selling point?!?). And I see several other Android phones getting displays on houses and along the roads. Watching TV in USA, I see a very familiar picture. All commercials focus on Galaxy and iPhones. Even Microsofts so called "partner" AT&T promotes iPhones when selling roll-over plans for data! I have during three days in USA now not seen a singel WP commercial or advertisement. That tells me a lot! If Microsoft cant get brand awareness in its home market I am afraid that the race is lost - no matter if they fix the app-gapp with Android apps or if the release a super-duper new flaghip device with WP10. This makes me really sad. I really dont want to switch to Android or iPhone but in a couple of years I will be forced as it is going right now. Microsoft must get a brand awareness campain going now! If Samsung could do it for their Galaxy phones then why cant Microsoft?
  • First of all, how much time did it take to write this blog?? Lol....
  • My ans would be..... A definite YES
  • I agree about the UI 'challenge'. Do you think that if WP didn't have tiles, it would be more successful?
  • They actually need to give up profits for a while and offer good quality and competitive phones for a fraction of competitors' price... That is how it is done. Seems microsoft cant figure out how to behave on a market that they do not have a monopol on...
  • Yes.
  • You mean a giant company like this doesn't have the ability to do low and high phoned at the same time? Makes no sense.
  • Some of the best reading on this site are in the comments section. I'm very happy that MS is not run by this committee! Excellent column, Jason. Looking forward to the second installment.
  • Fantastic piece Jason.
  • Microsoft SUCKS with advertising! All I see is galaxy this, iPhone that, with multiple features being touted with different commercials. And I have a 1520 that was way more powerful than iPhone and a 920 that did things 2 years ago that phones are starting to do today. Yes we need some serious flagships for Windows 10 and market the shit out of them. Microsoft have so much money that they spend on everything else, why can't the put out a good amount of cash on advertisements! Sick of this shit! The editor was right.. When I also pulled out my 1520 and show off the beautiful start screen that's customizable, people take notice and didn't know we created sexy flagship devices. Not to mention they didn't know that Windows phone can "do that". So please Microsoft, lets get it right. I'm a solid supporter and I for one would like to feel like I made the right choice.... From the "start"!! ;-)
  • I like longcipher's marketing idea ... but I'd add one more category to the lineup: XPhone (XBox gamer phone). It would be the one with the best CPU+GPU combination, more memory, best speakers, hololens tie in, mini projector(?), and whatever cool stuff they can get out of MSR. The goal is to create a "cool" phone, an aspirational phone. Not everyone in the target audience could afford it but everyone there would want it. MSFT doesn't need to make a ton of money off the XPhone. Just consider it marketing for the regular line of phones. Build interest in the teenager segment since they're obsessed with "coolness" and specmanship. The Surface phone would be the equivalent for adults.  
  • Microsoft must go Android or iOS route to fork one of this. They should give in somewhere then why not partner with Apple and clone iOS with live tiles. I have been using WP since WP7.5. As much as I love WP it is falling behind and will never recover.
  • Microsoft has got all the powers to break into No.1 , but they aren't doing so.
  • And show off different start screens for different users in your commercials, we are unique so SHOW IT OFF MICROSOFT!!! lets get this Windows 10 started with a bang!!
  • The way I see it, most of the people who already have iOS or Android will stick with that OS, with some cases of people switching from iOS to Android and vice versa. But among those people, there'll be very few cases of people switching to Windows Phone, probably due in part to the lack of a new flagship Lumia.
    However, that only accounts for about 1-2 billion of the people on the planet who already have smartphones. The other 5-6 billion people who don't have smartphones yet, don't have them due in part to the price. I believe Satya is aiming for this 5-6 billion people by making inexpensive (albeit low-quality) phones.
    In the end, I think trying to convince several billion low-income people to buy a Lumia instead of trying to win over 1-2 billion medium- and high-income people is a much better move for Microsoft.
  • An off topics question bt while surfing net, most of the websites crash on my l520
    Does anyone has a solution for this??
  • The most hitting WP is the gap of apps only.......
  • 1) Apple defined the modern smartphone market with the iPhone. It was garbage when it was first released, but it has incrementally improved. That said, without apps the iPhone would be just a so so mobile OS. 2) Android was second to the modern smartphone market and became so popular because it was free to developers, not because it was or is a superior OS. Android is still a hot mess of an OS. And the typical Android user (not the power users that comment on sites like WC) only buy Android because they either get their phone cheap or free and they can't afford an iPhone. Realize that most of the world can't afford to spend $600+ on a phone to play Candy Crush on. And most of these folks probably couldn't tell you what an OS is much less give you an intelligent argument as to why they think Android is a good OS. "I have an Android phone." "What is Android?" "I don't know, the guy at the phone store told me to get it." 3) Windows Phone's only shortcoming was that it was late to market. Had Windows Phone even in WP7 version been second to market, we would be having a different conversation. By most accounts Windows Phone is a far superior OS to Android. More stable, easier to use, and much more efficient. But, the apps, the perception, and the deliberate failure of US carriers to promote it have been roadblocks. Just look outside the US where Windows Phone has 10%+ market share in some countries. If WP had 10% share in the US, this would be a different conversation all together.
  • Sorry to rain on your parade, but Windows Phone *global* market share is under 3%. In China, which is the largest potential smartphone market, it's almost non-existant, at under 1%, a decrease from 2%. According to Apple's latest quarterly report, China is now overtaking the U.S. as the place where most of their customers are----they love their iPhones there.
  • Windows Phone = Cheap bright plastic. Compared to the image of an Iphone or a high end Android which comes across as classy and sophisticated.
    I believe Microsoft need to shift the all most subconscious perception that a WP is basically a Fisher Price toy.They need something other than bright yellow handsets,something cooler with metal and glass.Above all they need three 'hero' handsets,a regular flag ship,a phablet and a camera centric phone..All top notch specks,call them Surface Phones.The ability to port Android apps will cure the 'app gap' at a stroke.
    This will help rebrand WP with a more high end image,thus will have a trickle down effect for the platform.SORTED. Posted via the WPC App for Android!
  • The vast majority of phones sold worldwide are low and mid tier phones, not flagships.
  • Everyone likes to believe it is their design/build/marketing/sales genius that wins the day, when in reality it is mostly sheer luck. Being in the right place at the right time trumps all. Most marketing and sales talk is pure hot air. Build a great product and tell people about it is the way to get it done. MS spends way too much time, money, and energy trying to beat Android and iOS, when instead they should be refining and building better and better Windows Phones. Differentiate themselves, don't imitate. Instead of relying on stores that make tons of money selling the competition they need to find another way to tell the public. It is foolish to keep trying a failed strategy over and over again in the hopes it will eventually work. The iPod wasn't a wild success because it imitated the Sony Walkman. It was different, sold in different ways and in different stores (at first), had different music available, and was from a brand that at the time was considered to be very niche.
  • Great article that clearly lays out a concern many of us have had. Kudos!
  • Superb article...i just wish a successor to the 1520..same 6"...coz this thing is a real head turner...
  • Microsoft should use Surfece for high-end devices like the Nokia Lumia 1020, 1520,
  • Microsoft needs to advertise what ever they've got. I don't see ads in the USA. There were billboards when wp8 first came out but that was a huge waste of money.
  • Not on their own. The thing that is hurting is a lack of high-end phones. Many potential customers get no exposure with WP because they want the latest and greatest, and many U.S. customers just have no options. That feeds into the biggest problem with WP, the app omissions. When a lack of phones hurts sales, market share suffers. That hurts developer interest, and apps don't come. Low-end Windows Phone aren't bad drivers, in some cases. They aren't the problem. It's the singular focus on the low-end that is causing issues. It's why I am unhappily stuck with my 920, almost 6 months after my upgrade date on a 2-year contract and almost a year after my AT&T Next upgrade date.
  • I've been saying it for a while now. Yes it is wise to target the low end market, but despite what little ground they have made in the high end market, you don't just walk away, abandoning that market to focus completely on the low end and expect to be able to come back to the high end to pick up where you left off afterwards.
    Yeah it is great that they are releasing phones for developing / 3rd world nations so some hunter in a hut has a smartphone, but what about the rest of us in nations with some extra spending money?
    Sure maybe somebody will go into a phone company and ask to see what mobiles they have & come across a low end Lumia. They'll check it over and say, "Hey, I like this feature. The UI is pretty cool. Free GPS? A Digital Assistant? MS Office on here as well?? Hey these icons tell me things without having to open the app! How's the Camera?...... Oh..... Well it's got a front facing one right? Uh huh.... What's the power on this thing? Half a gig? That CPU isn't very good. Not much storage either you say? Now that I look at it further, the screen isn't really spectacular either.... Well, do you guys have a better one of these? Something a little more on the high end? No?? Alright, I'll take the Android."
    MS needs to take a two prong approach but they're only focusing on one approach which is the low end. You might sway people for getting a cheap phone and maybe they will stick around for long enough for a high end to come along, but wait too long and they will move on. A cheap phone is exactly that.... Dispensable, temporary. It's a phone you don't plan to hold onto for a long time. Some do, but many buy a cheap phone as a backup or short term replacement for a damaged or lost phone & it's to keep them going until they can afford a replacement or their contract is up. If you don't have better alternatives then the customer will find their own alternatives.
    The other problem MS has is their lack of marketing/advertising. The last time I ever saw a big marketing blitz from Microsoft was with the Lumia 800 & Windows 7. Hell that marketing blitz was what got me into Windows Phone and my very first mobile, the 800. I have since upgraded to the 925, and now the 930. I have also acquired a Lumia 625 & a 630. They're backups as well as W10 testing devices.
    I love my 930 & I liked the 925. When it is time to upgrade again I want another Windows Phone, but it will be a high end. If not, I don't know what I will do. Back when I got my 800, it was a toss up between that or the Blackberry Torch. I still haven't ruled out Blackberry but I still want a high end Windows Phone. They better hurry.
  • I doubt it's the low end phones hurting WP, it's the lack of availability. When carriers only have one or two WP devices to offer, if that, people don't have much to choose from. Too much emphasis is placed on branding (branding= perception). Many good books don't get published due to branding. Good shows and movies don't get released because of branding. MS needs to get more phones to carriers because all of these announcements are noise if people can't buy the phones.
  • I was the first one to use a Windows phone among my family and friends.i chose Windows OS because of its different Ul compared to Android.i liked it very much. When my sister was thinking about buying a smartphone I suggested Windows and bought a L730. Now she is telling that she needs a Android phone. Windows does not have any apps she says....
    What should I tell her??
  • For me the 520 was the proverbial toe in the water.  Now I'm ready to upgrade to the 640XL whenever it gets released on T-MO. If you haven't seen the Microsoft ad for the 640XL, its freaking beautiful. 
  • What ppl react regarding WP
    1) Lumia is WP. So, it must not be having simple UI as my droid( coz of things like settings menu and improper visibility of tile icons with background)
    2)They are not cheap and dont provide good specs but hv good quality screen ,camera etc( by my 720)
    3) The platform doesn't hv enough apps(specially games)
    4) The phone has no smart features. It's boring, you cant share and interact with other devices(This refers to lack of WiFi direct , USB OTG , BT sharing and file manager which was pre 8.1, and even inabilities of simple things like renaming the phone and selecting multiple contacts in people hub)
    5) Overall you can't do anything with windows phone and if my droid hangs while I send you files via Bluetooth, it must be your WP's fault with some security restriction(one of my personal incidents)
  • Want a selfie? Buy the Samsung ATIVE SE and you will be extremely satisfied!
  • A good flagship is definitely a neccessity.  And make it on ALL carriers, for cryin' out loud!  One of the better phones was the Icon, but it was Verizon only, which was surprising, because Verizon couldn't seem to give a schit less about it.  When I was still on Verizon, I had a rep trying to talk me out of that phone and into an iPhone (yes, I resisted the urge to punch her in the face).  I switched from Verizon to AT&T, and SHOULD have been able to get a 930, but it's not available in the US because of the agreement with Verizon on the Icon.  So stupid.  I almost went with a 1020, but it was too slow, IMO, and I didn't want a phablet (1530).  I should've waited for the 830, but I bought a Galaxy S5 Active instead.  Does anyone know how to hack this thing to run WP10?  That would be awesome.  A button that can be dedicated to the camera, built in case, and waterproof.  I would love to see a flagship device like that. I also think they should have kept the Nokia branding.  There are still some people around that remember having rock solid Nokia phones, myself being one of them.  Otherwise, what was the frickin point of buying them?  MS couldn't design a Surface device from scratch? And Jason, you mean to tell me that you don't have a better Lumia laying around that you can give yo your neice? Maybe an 830? C'mon, be a cool uncle, lol.  Maybe you could set up a GoFundMe page for her, I would pitch in a buck or two, lol
  • I also forgot to mention: We have an engineer here, originally from India, living in Singapore, training in the US.  He was showing me the phone he has, it's a Xiomi (sp?).  It's basically a high end Android phone (albeit cheaply made), that he managed to buy in India for about $150 US, outright.  So it's not like the MS is undercutting better Android options by much over there. When I mentioned I used to run WP, and was considering another one, he looked at me like I had two heads.  He said, "Windows Phone is very slow, I have seen people with these, and I would not buy one, can't do anything with it."  So this is basically the low end phone effect that this article is pointing to.  My old Focus was lightning fast for the time, compared to phones with higher end internals.  But these budget phones make people think WP is slow, when it's really the hardware that they're seeing.
  • 930 is better than the s4 and no apps tell u your joking
  • Spot on article, they made an attempt with 1020 obviously sales weren't good, buy there was buzz about their phones. Now, nothing, my wife jumped ship to Galaxy, and after two windows phones currently 920 today is crucial, either run Android apps or I'm out, I still love the UI.
  • I have switched to a Lumia 920 after a low-end Samsung Galaxy Ace II and I'm very happy I did. But I must say, since then I'm feeling like an outsider in my regular company not to mention the guys I study IT with. Most of them hate Windows phone for the UI, but appreciate it's camera ability. Now one year later from when I got my Lumia I see colleagues makes the switch to Windows phone and they mostly go for the Lumia 535. I don't blame them, it's a nice people with all but less good features. I personally would never go for a low end Windows phone. I just feel like I can get better solutions from Android if I'm only into apps and chats. Microsoft should definitely make some more high end devices along with some mid range and consider a rather affordable price them, because I don't think someone's gonna go for the "bad UI" and no apps Lumia 930 for 450$ over a galaxy S4.
  • It's worth pointing out that yes, companies like Samsung and HTC release their low end filler phones but they aren't the phones they advertise, they advertise the S6 or the M9. The reason being, make people want the bitchingly awesome flagship phone but then have them buy the cheaper alternative that they can afford. If Microsoft don't have a flagship they can't get people to buy their low end devices as the branding isn't in people's faces.
  • I totally agree with you! That is how you market your brand! Cheap people still want gold and diamonds, they don't just walk into a store and say, "give me your cheapest watch.". No! They say,"Give me that cheap Movado wannabe watch."
  • Excellent article!
  • Where is the next 1520???? This is what Microsoft keeps losing. People see my 1520 and ask all the time how to get one. But since microsoft always chokes people end up going with the okiedoke and falling back into a galaxy or an iPhone. Its really sad.
  • It's all in the way you market your product. If you say that what you are offering is the best and you push it in the consumer's face no matter where they go eventually it gets accepted as the must have.
  • I think Microsoft needs to advertise a bit better. With Windows 10 coming, they need to show that WP is not just an accessory for your PC, but it is an actual appendage of your PC! They need to show people that it can do way more than iOS and Android. Sure iOS has millions of apps, but most of those apps are junk. People are chasing numbers here. I truly hope that universal apps opens the doors for developers to utilize the WP, and opens the eyes to the public. Msoft also needs to tap into gaming market. I'm a gamer, and if my phone allowed me to check my stats on all taking platforms then that would be great. Maybe make a deal with valve and get mobile gaming going for WP since windows 10 will be across all devices.
  • This. Surface Pro 3 seems to be granted all of MS's ad revenue. When was the last time anyone saw a WP commercial that wasn't simply about Cortana? Or when was the last time anyone saw a WP commercial?
  • Well written article Jason.  Thank you.  Oh and I'm one of "those" who can live (very) nicely w/o a front facing camera.  Of course it's been many moons since my 14th birthday. Very satisfied 635 owner.  Looking forward to Part II. Thanks again.
  • @Dave47 :-) Many moons since I was 14 two my friend. Thanks for the support!
  • Great article !
    one can't write anything better than this.
    OK! Ok! You can ,the part 2 :)
  • This calibre of writing has been missing for a very very long time. At last some integrity.
  • Agreed!
    Now , a article targeting App gap :) @Jason
  • @ Sam Thanks so much. Appreciate that! :-)
  • @sanjeet Thanks. Oh the pressure! :-) Looks like MS took care of the App Gap problem. #Build2015 #MicrosoftWins :-)
  • Incredibly insightful and objective article, well written and posing some very interesting questions. I'm looking forward to the followups in this series. I feel that Microsoft have succesfully improved their 'buzz' with Windows 10, Surface and Surface Pro and I think they are making steps to increase their relevancy in our mobile tech world. I have been using several phones and tablets in all major platforms (several iPhones, iPads, Nokia Lumia 920, Galaxy Note 3, Acer Switch tablet) and I am leaning more and more towards Windows. Especially since Office 365 cross-platform productivity has increased greatly. But I do want a device that is equally suitable for 'productivity' and 'entertainment'. With the new line of hardware (Surface Pro) they are coming very close to the Apple quality of well-integrated hard- and software. Plus they are able (or willing) to reduce their profits margins to make their devices appeal to more users. My major "complaint" with Windows Phone is the lack of apps. Not that I'm in the Snapchat crowd, but there's still some things missing. I also believe that Microsoft will greatly improve the developer appeal - and thus the app availability) by unifying the entire Windows 10 environment for all devices. Of course, every user has different needs so opinions will continue to vary greatly between tech enthousiasts, business professionals and the Snapchat crowd. I don't care what strategy Microsoft has but I am glad they appear to have one, at least. But I do wonder about some rumours (Android apps on Windows, seems such a double-edged sword. Lacking a flagship (for those of us who need bling and/or maximum hardware performance). PR issues). I do feel we're all in for some major surprises from Microsoft and I must say I am incredibly impressed with the results of their changed direction, in such a short time.  
  • @platforwamderer Thanks for the feedback. Great input too! :-) Microsoft's Build Keynote really brought some exciting information to bear. :-) My following 3 pieces beginning with Seeds of Success, will hopefully help tell the story of MS Strategy.
  • Hi Jason, thanks for the feedback. The Build Keynote was truly exciting and for me, the intented solution for the "App Gap" was an unexpected but surprisingly excellent move by Microsoft.. Can't wait to see the Microsoft Store being flooded with recompiled iOS/Android apps. Just read your part 2 and things are becoming clearer. As an entrepeneur myself, I cannot help but believe that in the end, users will benefit greatly from having the same experience on their smartphone or tablet as they have had on their PC for years and years. All that talk about Apple/Android market share seems irrelevant when you see all those billion Windows PC users in the world as potential Windows smartphone/tablet buyers. THAT is the power of Microsoft, I believe, and therefore Windows 10 adaptation on PC will be critical. After most users have upgraded to Windows 10 they will want it on their tablet and phone, as well. Especially with good service integration (Office365/Onedrive). As Apple has sold more iMacs/Macbooks (and gained loyal fans) due to their success with iPhone, Microsoft will hopefully sell (more) Windows phones and tablets after their success with Windows 10. Well, just some thoughts, but I am excited. And for the last few years, I found I become more and more bored with the latest iOS update or new iPhone or Galaxy device. This Microsoft strategy is keeping me enthousiastic, although I doubt Microsoft will care about that :) When you think about it, it actually seems quite hard for Microsoft NOT to succeed :)  
  • Hmmm. A very thought provoking and. sensible article. I hope someone in Microsoft is reading this and taking it very very seriously.
  • #bringbackbillgates
  • I'm a Windows Phone loyalist
  • Love the article Jason, can't wait to see part 2 :)
  • They barely advertise WP. This is another huge problem. Surface Pro3 & Surface 3 on the other hand has at least 10 or more tv spots in the last year, even going after Apple in the ads. I've probably seen 3 WP ads in that same time, all focused on Cortana. The Droid Does campaign and the Next Big Thing campaign helped bring Android to the masses (both went after the iPhone incidentally).
  • Very well written article.
  • Personally it kind of scares me with how many low end devices Microsoft is releasing. Cause I think sometimes they might flood the market with too many low end phones and will get hurt like HTC did with too many devices. Now I do think that Microsoft needs to release a new flagship phone like a successor to the Lumia 1020 and the 1520. Maybe since production has stopped on these two phones maybe we will see 2 varients in the coming year when windows 10 for phones is completed and released.    As a sidenote I have noticed that I still use the same Lumia 1020 I got when it came out and some of my friends actually have gone through 2 new iphones or 2 galaxy phones. I do think Microsoft releases phones that definitely stand the test of time cause right now my Lumia 920 is using the beta of Windows 10 and it still works great.
  • When apple released the low end version of the iPhone I never saw a single one of those out in public.  At least in the US, even poor people have the high end iPhones. 
  • Amazing article :) now waiting part II.
  • In short. Yes.
  • Apps! Look, I know fans of WP are tired of hearing it, but apps are needed. I have so many customers switching FROM windows to ios/android because they can't get their bank app or a plethora of others. They love the love tiles or just how the phone works, but hate not having apps. I used WP for a year, recommending it to my customers as I did. And while I'll still recommend it, I can't deny that my android just does more. Yes, low end phones are hurting WP to a degree because high end is what causes a halo affect. But apps are what's losing the battle all together.
  • Great Article, but that first Sway presentation just broke my heart </3 Sad, but true!
  • @Narciso Thanks. Yeah sometimes you just have to tell it like it is. And as I shared in that Sawy - "...Awesomeness Expected". I have big expectations from Microsoft. The Build keynote validated those expectations!
  • I wasn't getting the point of showing those shinny Galaxy/iPhone ads then I saw Lumia threw out like that... DAMN! Also //build/ was everything that i was looking for and many more (Continum for phones, new Windows on small tablets UI, hololens and so on)
  • If windows 10 doesn't blow my mind I think the 830 will be my last WP.
  • Microsoft has never been able to market effectively to Consumers. With ask the cuts they have implemented this past year I don't know why their Marketing Division hasn't been wiped out and replaced by some people who know what their doing in the consumer space.
  • Extremely well written
  • Nothing wrong with cheap phones, but they screwed up by releasing garbage like the 530.   Also, the market is more competitive all around. Apple has stopped shooting themselves in the foot, there are quality cheap Android phones like the Moto E/G, plus all the Chinese brands.  
  • When all of the flagship phones have been removed and nothing to take their place...people begin to think only low end phones exist with Windows.
  • The brand is suffering because of lack of Apps, this was apperent when my company gave me a Iphone because the Good app was not avaliable on my WP for corporate email.  Then I discoverd how much we are missing once you go an look for apps from banking to simple controling my Homeywell Thermostat.  Until MS resolves this WP might just die.  I have a 1520 and Iphone (work)  to me the Iphone is frustrating as the WP is so well intergrated and easy to use.  I hope the WP10 gets it there.  I have Outlook and Office on myIphone an love it, I'm sure the experience will be better onthe WP10.
  • What is hurting to Microsoft is that we have 6 models with exactly same hardware but ie the 640 share same things with 830 but no physical camera Burton no 4G no NFC but in emerging markets will cost double than the 535 only because it's a Lumia 600 series almost no difference between the 535 to 830 In hardware just the camera and NFC is the difference, would prefer less low end but with defined hardware and not shared ones also the lack of apps too also still saying Microsoft still too united states centered yesterday moved my phone language and region to united, states, English, and local scout worked great even shown me stores and flea markets too, why not stop this of some features of Windows depends of, your country in united states the os, war Microsoft have lost long time ago in a market where iPhone and android reigns should start to get the efforts in other markets where can have more chances of get more market share , by what I watched local scout got adult so can work in my country
  • I just want to say I thought this article was really awesome to read.  You bring it all to the table the good and the not so good.   I also just want to say that I cant wait for another flagship phone! I am still using my Lumia 920 with a broken screen because I've been waiting for a true flagship phone.  I was really close to getting a 1520 a few weeks ago right up until it was pulled form the stores. But I was ok because I know one is coming with Windows 10. I just hope I'm not setting myself up for a big let down.   In regards to people just seeing the brand as a "cheap" phone and only enthusiasts see the high end phones is sad because while the devices are in the low end the services that come with it are powerful.  I use the full suite of MS services (O365, one drive,  skype, etc) and when I show people what I can do with them they are blown away!  Either way the MS Phones and services work really well and I think MS is just flying under the radar.  Windows 10 is going to change the game for them.   When everyone gets upgraded on their home PC's for free and they see the amazing and wonderful things it can do its only going to lead to more phone sales.  Either way I'm sold and will not abandon ship because I fell I can do more for less with MS than apple.  I don’t need go spend thousands of dollars for over priced "Luxury" brands when my good old windows does it all for less.   Kind of derailed there at the end.  Just saying things are going to be changing for MS in the near future and I'm excited ill be able to take part.
  • @granspartan117 Thanks for adding to the discussion and for the support. You are right. Windows 10 changes the game! I think there a great times ahead! :-)
  • Ultimately, the biggest problem to plague WP still remains: Poor marketing and mediocre public awareness. Thinks are looking better, though. Here in Brazil I've already seen the Lumia 640/XL ads on very important hours.
  • In Chile just did 1 ad but on the, subway of the 630 and the features of here maps, etc but Microsoft or, neither Nokia have, invest in yelling ads, also in Chile market place of Chilean apps have almost 0,003% of apps so it's, not good in Chile,I think satya nadella it's addressing to Microsoft to the Indian market but have not an wide open Vista i see that Windows central gets too focused, in India markets but already forgets the rest of the world, also it's like, not acceptable that my phone, the 820 have 1,5ghz and the 830 be lower in speed and just get an quad core processor, it's like joke that the older, model have more power than the newer, I wish flagships but also wish an proper flagship and mid ones not the current overpriced 830 with an hardware of. 640 which only will differentiate the NFC, 4G and the camera which it's not pureview, also it's a joke that the 930/920 don't have SD card slots, if those, phones are photography oriented and always we have and take lots of pictures and can record the 930 in 4K with such low memory how they expect the,4K recording if less of 40 sec of 4k it's 1gb imagine in a concert
  • Im not so sure the bottom up approach will work. All I see that doing is turning people away fom the platform when other phones of the same class do more. The only thing people will remember was that my cheap windows phone didnt have that app or didnt do etc.
  • Just wondering how many Microsoft Retail Stores there are in the US and Worldwide compared to APPLE and Samsung for example. I'm certainly looking forward to the opening of the First Microsoft retail store in Australia here in Sydney. It shall I hope will give at least Sydney residents ( population 2.5 million), another choice than Apple & Samsung stores which have been established for some many years. IT SHOULD HELP MAKE THE GENERAL PUBLIC more aware of MICROSOFT products including WP don't you think?
    Cheers from DOWN UNDER.
  • That happens i India too. When I was in a showroom to buy a lumia the associate offered me android phones. He tried to convince me but i has already made my choice to buy L830
  • I have to agree but for the most part its reliable on my 535. But I have experienced so minor lag with I haven't experienced on my iPhone 5s very surprised that Instagram is still In beta didn't it come out on Windows Phone 2013? It seems as if Microsoft isn't that concerned about Windows Phone. They need to be doing much more than they are currently doing. Windows notifications are not as good as on iOS.
  • What about that earns more MSFT by Android licenses fees ?
  • Despite being nearly 2 years old now, the Lumia 1020 is still the platform's "halo" device.  Not necessarily a big seller, but the device that actually got people to take notice of WP and to this day is still unsurpassed when it comes to taking photographs, a fact that I still see often mentioned in articles on various sites.  A lot of my friends bought Windows Phone devices because of how much I loved my 1020 and just how good it was.  Now though my 2 year contract is almost up and come June I'll be getting a new phone.  I really want to stay on WP, but there's not a current device on the platform that I have any interest in at all and so unless Microsoft announce something soon I'll be going back to Android.  I really don't want to, but my 1020 is dying and I'm simply not interested in getting a low or mid range phone. Mircosof might be much more interested low end phones to attract new customers in developing markets, but to just ignore the high end market in wealthier countries seems foolish to me.  Microsoft need to release a new flagship/halo phone soon because techies like me that love the platform need a device we can point to and tell our friends that WP can do anything that an iOS or Android device can.
  • Agree,and they need a yearly cycle of flagship phones to compete.
  • Good read that was. I used to have a Philips Niño palm pc with Windows CE or something in the 90's. I bought an HTC phone through T-Mobile in the Netherlands in 2004 running a version of Windows. I owned a Lumia 710, 920 and since June 2014 a Lumia 1520. Of course I have come across people with Android, I own a Nexus 7 myself. Have seen people juggling with iPhones and iPads. Microsoft has been overtaken and left behind so often in its existence, they have come to the front again every time. This will be no exception.
  • I'm still using the flagship, 1520 for over a year now. Haven't experienced any problems, yet. And I've dropped my 1520 a few times already. My screen isn't cracked, discolored, or unresponsive, both cameras are as crisp as it was before, and Phantom touch screen? Anyhoo... Lumia 1020, 1320, and Icon all each share some stats with the 1520 but falter in other areas. None of the newer models have all the 1520's stats but better. That's why it is THE Flagship. When they come out with a model that surpasses all its stats (even then it has to be better than marginally better) then I will upgrade to that new flagship.
  • You can't sustain a brand and have it mean anything if all you produce and gravitate to is cheap, low end and unimpressive products. Microsoft can do "budget" phones, but it cannot rely on this tact to gain more shares. No. That liberal thinking has proven wrong time and again.
    ...
    You need both. High end and low end. Focusing on merely low end will get your products the equivalent distinction to that of a trac phone or government issued, crap, phones.
  • When it was first announced that MS were buying Nokia's phone division I wrote on a few forums about how I hoped to see MS releasing 2 ranges of phone with different design languages.  One would  be the Lumias with their distinctive design, which would mainly be lower end devices, and the other would be from the Surface team.  I would love to see that lot come up with a phone based on the same sort of design as the Surface tablets.  Hmm, the more I think about it, the more I want a premium phone from the Surface team to rival the iPhone and Galaxy S6 on terms of quality.  I think that could just be my dream phone.  I've loved carrying around my bright yellow 1020 as that phone really was something special and I liked having people notice it, but I think it's time for something more refined.  Something like my old N8 would be perfect!
  • Not nearly as much as the lack of high-end phones. 
  • I'll give you my perspective.  635 allowed me to try windows and see that it's a viable platform.  I have an android tablet, and have used BBRY products since needing them to keep track of email when I was away from the office.  I broke the screen of my 635 and went back to a great deal on a Q10 BBRY, love it.  The 635 had serious deficiencies, but it got me looking forward to MSFT products even more.  I think that incorrectly speced devices hurt the brand more than low-end phones.  I cried for a flash on the 635, I have a front facing camer aon the Q10, but don't use it.  For others I can see how that would be an issue. It is clear that opportunities for growth are in the low end, and that upfront revenue from phones is not the way to play the game.  The diverse phones create media attention, albeit at the cost of some confusion.  But they're throwing a lot at the walls in diffferent markets to see what sticks.  I'm happy with the strategy and look forward to the mid-level phones as well.  A 640 would fulfill almost all of my needs, except I would prefer better mics for audio recording.
  • Great article, really enjoyed reading it.
  • It's stupid....i have a 1520....i would like to upgrade my phone, but there is no phone worthy of upgrade and my phone will eventually need replacement..... The sad thing is that I have been considering the iPhone 6+. If Microsoft doesn't put out a phone to replace the 1520 then I along with many other 1520 owners will probably go to Android or iPhone...a lack of a flagship phone could be a downer as well. The 640 only boasts half the specs of the Lumia(half the camera, half the ram, half the CPU) so sad...
  • Went through the article, in my country the scene is slightly different. We have plenty of chinese Android manufacturers Xiomi, with their good build quality, dirt cheap, high end specs, Windows phone simply cannot compete. Even if they reduce the price to dir cheap, they don't have the necessary apps, games and functionality offered by Android. The only way that MS can keep up is to offer on par functionality at lesser prices. All the major apps that run on Android should run on windows phone at the same functionality. MS should pay the developers (popular ones) for every download/usage, that is the only way they can get developers to develop for the platform. They should not worry about hard ware now, the money they are investing churning out many low end phones they can use to pay developers and build the ecosystem. I think one or 2 models are enough 1GB RAM snapdragon 400/410, 720p resolution, 6.7/8/13 MP camera better than average, ffc >= 2mp, gps, compass, etc...
     (730 seems the right fit) They should not piss off existing customers by delayed updates to apps and games. The strength of Android is they have bug fixes and updates often. Eg temple run 2 has been updated 10 times on Android and I am still stuck with a year old version on windows. Many banks and big companies are dropping support for windows phone 8.x. When you piss off 1 existing customer, you loose 10 other prospective customers.
  • Attaching the name 'Windows', with all the negative connotations that brings for most people, to your mobile offering... ...branding fail right out of the gate.  
  • As long as carriers continue to control phone sales and distribution, Microsoft phones and in addition windows phone will continue to do badly in North America. I've used a Lumia 620. I loved the phone. Sold it and the new owner a first time smart phone user is happy with it. I own a Lumia 830 now. A very good upgrade. I could not afford to upgrade to a full flagship like the 930. Microsoft gave me a pure view camera in a metal rimmed flagship form and feel at a price I can afford. The phone looks like a flagship, feels like a flagship but is not as fast as a flagship. I am good with that.
  • Can someone point out the innovation in the iphone6 please. Innovations don't sell iPhones. Can someone tell me why waterproof Sony xperia zs don't sell Innovations don't make u buy phones. Can someone tell me why the s4 and s5 consistently dropped in sales. Gimmicks don't help phone sales in the long run. Why did Samsung choose to remove water protection from the galaxy s6 and usb 3.0 from the note 4 Utility and functionality is not always high on buyers minds. I remember that the Lumia 930 was the most innovative phone when it was released. Nfc, wireless charging, higher than 720p resolution, super sensitive display, curved surfaced glass, ois, dual led, Bluetooth 4.0 Doubt if it sold up to 5 million units
  • A well written article, Jason.
  • It's nonsense that the son is negatively comparing a Lumia 635 to an iPhone. You can buy 7 or 8 635s for the price of one iPhone. Presumably he hasn't learned the meaning of value for money.
  • Microsoft just cut the crap. 2x high end flagship, 2x mid range and 2x low end.. Stop making so many models.. It's confusing and not productive. Spends more on marketing planning! ​I want flagship!!! Anyway kudos for simplifying tools for developers to convert Android and IOS app to WP app. Claps! ​ ​
  • Blame it on Ballmer.  The richest and most important market is the United States and Microsoft failed to cut the right deals with the telecoms.  Whether it's AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile, none of those stores aggressively promote Windows phones - nor do their sales people.  At Verizon, all you hear is "Droid Droid Droid... and the iPhone" Lack of competitive compelling apps.   
  • i have been using lumia 925 since october 24th 2014 , the worst thing about windows phone is its OS and the empty store! The store is totally empty that making the defference. Even the most popular apps are not in the windows store, i dont know how they gonna solve this problem! if they can solve it their market will be high!
  • NO Flash in back camera in 430, 435 the only reason I am not buying any
  • I've wanted Nokia's of the recent past, namely the 1520 and Lumia/930.  Yet, owing to some nitwitted developed country strategy I couldn't get them on the carrier of my choice.  Now, it's been over a year and nary a Windowsphone to yearn over.  It's all well and good to focus on the next billion but if you want the wallets of the first billion, you can't ignore them.  Blame whomever you want but the ongoing egregious lack of apps on Windowsphone continues to present a very real problem.  I'm not going to get my dearly loved Google apps served to me by some third party hack developer.  Maybe Continuum is the wow me feature but factually nothing in Office365 is so good as to blow Google Docs, et al out of the water.  There are still people willing to pay for that old musty security blanket of Microsoft Word (my wife) but that group is shrinking each and every day as the mobile revolution continues.  C'mon Redmond release a flagship or two and release them on all 4 big US carriers, sell them unlocked and direct, do something to tempt those of us with the cash on hand to support you.    I just had an excellent experience picking up the laptop I'm commenting with from the Microsoft Store, it is a very positive Apple-like experience with great products; like my HP Spectre x360.  Now bring us great products in mobile that aren't named Surface.
  • To be honest, SnapChat will boost the windows phone market. Most smartphone users if not all, love SnapChat and that's the reason why they all go for Android and ios. The mere fact that SnapChat isn't available for Windows Phone is enough reason to drive them away to other options. Apart from SnapChat, there are other apps that Android and IOS have that windows phones don't like YouTube and even if windows phones have them, the android and ios versions of the apps are way cooler and better than the windows versions, take Instagram and Twitter for example. The windows version of instagram doesn't provide for instagram direct for direct messages. Not everyone would like having third-party apps other than the original app itself.